"Runnels became a hero to fans around the world thanks to his work ethic, his impassioned interviews and his indomitable spirit," the WWE said in a statement. "Moreover, Runnels was a dedicated father to WWE Superstars Goldust (Dustin Runnels) and Stardust (Cody Runnels), a caring husband and a creative visionary who helped shape the landscape of WWE long after his in-ring career had ended."
The organization also remembers Runnels as "one of the most captivating and charismatic figures in sports entertainment history."
The three-time NWA World Heavyweight Champion began his career in the late 1960s and was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame in 2007. A fan favorite, his persona was one of an American man and was often billed as the “son of a plumber.”