Walt Konopka - in memoriam

Major League Soccer is paying tribute to Walt Konopka, an original employee of the league since its beginning in 1996, who passed away Tuesday night at the age of 65. A moment of silence will be held before MLS games tonight to honor Walt and his commitment to Major League Soccer.

The following is a statement from MLS Commissioner Don Garber:

All of us at Major League Soccer are heartbroken over the passing of Walt Konopka, one of the league office’s original employees and a beloved member of the MLS family. Walt was a steadfast leader of our payroll and tax functions for more than 25 years, and a bedrock of our organization. More importantly, he was a father figure to many and a friend to us all. We will all miss his gentle manner, his steady hand, and his good heart. Our deepest condolences go to his wife, Deb, their sons Chris and Michael, and their grandchildren.

Walt Konopka with wife Deb

Walt's son, Chris Konopka, was a goalkeeper in the league for 11 years — representing Sporting Kansas City, New York Red Bulls, Columbus Crew, Philadelphia Union, Toronto FC, Portland Timbers and Minnesota United FC — and is currently Orlando City SC's academy goalkeeper coach. He paid the following tribute to his father:

He was the man that would give the shirt off his back to a stranger just to make sure everyone else was feeling OK besides himself. He was the most selfless person anyone can ever imagine.

He was a man with a gigantic heart, a gigantic smile, a great laugh and those are the things I think people will remember him by.

He was always that guy who was maybe behind the scenes at the start but always knew that at any moment he could take control because he was the rock, he was the foundation of everything.

Walt Konopkaat BMO