|Sandra Lucille Runnels
|September 10, 1959 - December 8, 2021
|Ex-Wife of Dusty Rhodes, Mother of Dustin and Cody Rhodes
Sandra Runnels was the ex-wife of WWE Hall of Famer Dusty Rhodes and the mother of professional wrestling legend Dustin Rhodes. Born Sandra Lucille Runnels on September 10, 1959, in Clovis, California, she was the daughter of Clarence and Edna Willis. Throughout her life, Sandra remained a supportive figure in her family’s wrestling careers, which spanned several generations.
Tragically, Sandra Runnels passed away on December 8, 2021, after battling serious health issues. Her death was confirmed by her son Dustin Rhodes, who expressed gratitude for all the love and support the family had received during that difficult time. Her memorial service took place on January 12, 2022. Sandra’s passing marks another loss for the Rhodes family, as Dusty Rhodes had passed away in 2015.
Despite facing adversity throughout her life, Sandra’s resilience and unwavering support for her family left a lasting impact on the wrestling world. The legacy of Sandra Runnels will undoubtedly live on through her family’s continued success and dedication to their craft.
Early Life and Family
Childhood and Parents
Sandra Runnels was born in the United States, and not much is known about her early life and parents. However, she eventually developed a connection to the world of professional wrestling, which would significantly impact her personal and family life.
Relation to Dustin Rhodes and Cody Rhodes
Sandra married professional wrestler Virgil Riley Runnels Jr., widely known as “The American Dream” Dusty Rhodes. Together, they had two children: Dustin Patrick Runnels, born on April 11, 1969, and Kristin Runnels Ditto, born in 1973. After their divorce, Dusty Rhodes married Michelle Rubio and had two more children: Cody Rhodes (Cody Garrett Runnels) and Teil Runnels.
While both of her biological children were successful in their respective fields, with Dustin following in his father’s footsteps and becoming a professional wrestler, and Kristin pursuing a career as a business entrepreneur, Sandra’s relationship with her stepchildren, Cody and Teil, is not widely documented. However, it is known that they all shared a connection to the world of wrestling, where:
- Dustin Rhodes (Dusty Rhodes’ and Sandra Runnels’ son) is an accomplished professional wrestler and has worked for various wrestling promotions like WWE and AEW.
- Cody Rhodes (Dusty Rhodes’ and Michelle Rubio’s son) is also a renowned professional wrestler and executive vice president of AEW.
In summary, Sandra Runnels’ relationship with Dustin and Cody Rhodes highlights the strong bond among the family members, especially in their shared passion for professional wrestling. It is evident that this passion has played a significant role in shaping the career choices and successes of both Dustin and Cody Rhodes.
Marriage and Personal Relationships
First Marriage to Dusty Rhodes
Sandra Runnels met Dusty Rhodes, whose real name is Virgil Riley Runnels Jr., when they were both young and living in Texas. They got married in 1965 when Dusty was just 20 years old. The couple had two children during their marriage, Dustin and Kristin. Dusty, better known as “The American Dream,” had a successful career in wrestling which brought a certain level of fame to the family.
There is no public information available about Sandra Runnels’ second marriage.
Divorce and Aftermath
After a decade of marriage, Sandra and Dusty divorced in 1975. The reasons behind their divorce are not publicly known. Following their separation, both Sandra and Dusty went on to live their own lives. Dusty continued with his career in wrestling and later had another child, Cody, with his second wife, Michelle Rubio.
Sandra and Dusty’s children, Dustin and Kristin, forged their own paths as well. Dustin followed his father’s footsteps into the world of wrestling, becoming a legend in his own right, whereas Kristin pursued a different path. Despite the divorce and its aftermath, Sandra’s legacy lives on in her children and the impact they’ve made in their respective fields.
Professional Wrestling Impact
Sandra Runnels was a supportive force behind the scenes for the successful career of her ex-husband, Dusty Rhodes, and her sons, Dustin and Cody Rhodes. Although she did not directly participate in any professional wrestling matches, her contributions to the wrestling family have played a significant role in helping them reach their accomplishments in the field.
Dusty Rhodes, known as “The American Dream,” was an influential professional wrestler, competing mainly in the National Wrestling Alliance (NWA) and the World Wrestling Federation (WWF, now WWE). During his career, Dusty earned numerous accolades including multiple championships and was applauded for his charisma and in-ring ability.
- Sons Dustin and Cody Rhodes followed their father’s footsteps, finding success in WWE, All Elite Wrestling (AEW), and other promotions. Dustin Rhodes, also known as Goldust, captured championships such as the Intercontinental Championship, Anti-Dusting Championship and the Hardcore Championship. Meanwhile, Cody Rhodes has achieved multiple titles in both WWE and AEW, including the AEW TNT Championship.
WWE and WCW Contributions
Throughout their wrestling career, Sandra’s family members left lasting impressions in both WWE and World Championship Wrestling (WCW). Dusty Rhodes competed in numerous memorable matches, winning the United States Heavyweight Championship once and the World Tag Team Championship three times in the WCW. In the WWE, he further solidified his legacy as a legendary figure.
Dustin’s tenure in WWE saw him capturing the Intercontinental Championship three times, the Tag Team Championship three times, and the Hardcore Championship nine times. These accomplishments highlight Dustin’s tremendous impact in the WWE. In WCW, he managed to win the United States Heavyweight Championship once and the World Tag Team Championship three times.
Cody Rhodes, also known as Stardust in WWE, held several titles during his tenure such as the WWE Intercontinental Championship, the WWE Tag Team Championship, and the WWE World Tag Team Championship. In AEW, he has held the AEW TNT Championship and played a pivotal role in establishing AEW as a leading promotion alongside WWE.
In conclusion, despite not stepping in the ring directly, Sandra Runnels’ support for her family has played an essential role in the success of the Rhodes family in the professional wrestling world. Her dedication towards her family’s wrestling careers has left a lasting impact on both WWE and WCW, ensuring a legacy that will endure for generations to come.
Health and Passing
Illness and Hospitalization
Sandra Runnels, mother of wrestler Dustin Rhodes, experienced health issues prior to her passing. It is known that she was admitted to a hospital in February 2022 and was suffering from a significant amount of pain. The specific nature of her illness was not disclosed to the public, but it is reported that she struggled with an ongoing battle against the ailment.
During her hospitalization, Dustin Rhodes and his family requested thoughts, prayers, and support from their community and followers on social media.
Announcement of Passing
On January 5, 2023, Dustin Rhodes officially announced the passing of his mother, Sandra Runnels, through his Twitter and Instagram accounts. It was revealed that she had succumbed to her illness and passed away. Although the exact cause of death was not made public, it was acknowledged that Sandra faced considerable pain and discomfort during her final days.
In his announcement, Dustin Rhodes shared a heartfelt image of him holding his mother’s hand, offering a personal glimpse at the difficult time for their family. Many fans and followers have offered their condolences and support to the Rhodes family during this challenging period.
Legacy and Tributes
Sandra Runnels, mother of wrestler Dustin Rhodes, passed away in early January 2023. Her death was mourned not only by her family but also by the professional wrestling community. Her son, Dustin Rhodes, a prominent wrestler and WWE Hall of Famer, announced her passing via Twitter and Instagram, sharing his heartache and love for his mother.
Members of the wrestling industry paid their respects, acknowledging the role that Sandra played in the lives of her son and the Rhodes family. Many offered words of support and empathy, recognizing that Sandra’s loss impacted not just her family but the entire wrestling world.
Social Media Condolences
The news of Sandra’s passing spread quickly across social media, with numerous fans and fellow wrestling professionals expressing their condolences:
- Twitter: Fans and peers alike took to Twitter to extend their heartfelt support and sympathy to the Rhodes family. Numerous tweets included personal stories, memories, and prayers for the family in their time of grief.
- Instagram: On Instagram, wrestling personalities and fans alike shared pictures and memories of Sandra, along with kind thoughts and messages. Dustin Rhodes shared an emotional Instagram post about his mother, attracting a large outpouring of comments expressing support, love, and hope for the family to find peace in this difficult time.
Among the diverse reactions and tributes, the overwhelming message was clear: Sandra Runnels was a cherished and important figure in the life of her son and her family. The wrestling community united to honor her memory and support those affected by her passing. The phrase “rest in heaven” appeared in many messages, reflecting the hope that Sandra had found peace after her passing.
Family Statements and Reactions
Cody Rhodes’ Reflections
Cody Rhodes, brother of Dustin Rhodes and son of Sandra Runnels, has not yet made a public statement on social media platforms such as Twitter or Instagram. As the family is likely still processing the loss, it is important to respect their privacy during this difficult time.
Public Communications by Family Members
Dustin Rhodes, wrestler and son of Sandra Runnels, shared the news on Twitter, expressing his sadness and love for his mother. He wrote:
“I am very sad to say that I lost my Momma today… She was an incredibly strong mother who was loving and resilient to her…“
In addition, Dustin had previously shared his mother’s struggle with her health, specifically mentioning her pain. Many fans, friends, and members of the wrestling community have offered their prayers and support to the family during this time.
The news of Sandra Runnels’ passing has led to an outpouring of condolences, with many from the wrestling world expressing their sympathy for the family. It is evident that she had a significant impact on those who knew her.
Influence on Professional Wrestling
Training and Mentorship
Sandra Runnels, ex-wife of WWE Hall of Famer Dusty Rhodes, played a crucial role in the life of her son, Dustin Rhodes. Growing up around the wrestling business, Dustin was exposed to the world of professional wrestling at a young age. He inherited the love for the sport from both his mother and father. Under their guidance and mentorship, he went on to become a successful wrestler in his own right, taking on the iconic persona of Goldust.
Dustin Rhodes started his wrestling career training under his father, Dusty Rhodes, who was well-known as “The American Dream”. Sandra also played a role in her son’s journey to becoming a pro wrestler, supporting him throughout his career. As a mother and mentor, she contributed to his accomplishments and influenced his work ethic in the industry.
Legacy in Pro Wrestling Promotions
Sandra Runnels’ influence can also be seen through the impact her family made on various pro wrestling promotions. Her ex-husband, Dusty Rhodes, left an indelible mark on the industry, working for organizations such as the National Wrestling Alliance, Jim Crockett Promotions, and World Championship Wrestling, among others. Sandra’s support of Dusty’s career helped him to achieve his legendary status.
Through their son, Sandra’s and Dusty’s influence continued to shape professional wrestling. Dustin Rhodes’ character, Goldust, became iconic and played a significant role in various organizations, including WWE. His career influenced multiple wrestling companies, furthering the American Dream’s impact on the sport.
Sandra Runnels’ support, encouragement, and mentorship of Dustin Rhodes were instrumental in the development of his career. Her influence on pro wrestling can be seen through her family’s continued impact on the industry, extending the legacy of “The American Dream” and shaping the future of professional wrestling.