Today the WWE announced that Virgil Runnels, known to faans as "The American Dream" Dusty Rhodes, had passed away. He was 69.

According to For The Win, Dusty joined the National Wrestling Alliance in 1974, and became a three-time champion. He moved onto World Championship wrestling in the ’80s, before joining the WWF in 1989. After returning to the WCW in the ’90s, Rhodes enjoyed a stint with Total Nonstop Action Wrestling from 2003-05, before ultimately returning to the WWE in 2005.

Rhodes was inducted into the WWE, WCW, and Professional Wrestling hall of fames and is father to WWE superstars Dustin “Goldust” Rhodes and Cody “Stardust” Rhodes.

In a statement the WWE said “Runnels became a hero to fans around the world thanks to his work ethic, his impassioned interviews and his indomitable spirit,”

“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.”

Ric Flair, who had a longtime rivalry with Rhodes in the ring, told TMZ that he "was "honored to have shared the ring with him." 

In a statement through agent Melinda Morris Zanoni, Flair stated:

"Today I lost one of my greatest opponents and greatest friends. He was the definition of heart and soul and I’m honored to have shared the ring with him countless times.

"He became the 'American Dream' because wrestling needed a hero they could respect, and he was the man for the job. Dusty Rhodes, I will miss you my mentor and friend."