Jeanne Okerlund, ‘Mean Gene’s’ Wife: 5 Fast Facts You Need to Know

Gene Okerlund wife Jeanne

Facebook/Mike Kevin Farinella Okerlund and his wife pictured together in July 2016.

Jeanne Okerlund was the long-term wife of legendary WWE broadcaster “Mean Gene” Okerlund. On January 2, the WWE announced in a statement that Okerlund had tragically passed away at the age of 76. Okerlund married Jeanne, 73, in 1964 and the couple had two children together, including hockey player Todd Okerlund.

Okerlund was a native of South Dakota, while his wife hails from Wausau in Wisconsin. At the time of Okerlund’s death, the couple had been living in Osprey, Florida, together.

Here’s what you need to know:


1. Jeanne Donated a Kidney to Her Husband in 2004

Gene Okerlund kidney

Getty

Okerlund had two kidney transplants during his life. The first in 1995 and the second in 2004. The second kidney was provided by his wife. During a 2005 interview with Slam!, Okerlund described the 2004 incident as being a “major health scare.” Okerlund added, “I’ve been asked ‘when are you going to retire?’ And my answer back is that I have no intentions of retiring. I want to do it like Gorilla Monsoon and take it straight to the end. I hope for health reasons that I’m able to do that. Other than the fact that I’ve recently run out Viagra.” In 2014, it was reported that Okerlund was struggling with issues relating to his kidneys.


2. The Okerlunds Were Avid Golfers & Could Regularly Be Seen Playing at Minnesota National Golf Course

Okerlund told a local Minnesota newspaper in 2010 that, along with his wife, he was a member of Minnesota National Golf Course. Despite living in Florida for most of the year, Okerlund said that the couple spent most of their summer at their home in Big Sandy in the northern part of Minnesota. The couple could regularly be seen in the town of McGregor during the summer months. Okerlund said, “We love the people around McGregor. They are so easy going and deserve more amenities in the area. I’m working with groups trying to promote the betterment of Big Sandy and the lake area. After living in Florida seven months a year, we love Minnesota summers.” Okerlund said that he first came to the area in the 1970s, having been invited to a New Year’s Eve party and falling in love with the area.


3. Jeanne Was Alongside Her Husband When He Interviewed Liberace in Trump Tower in 1985

Jeanne Okerlund Facebook page

Facebook/Jeanne OkerlundJeanne Okerlund pictured on her Facebook page.

In 1985, the same year that Okerlund sang the national anthem at Wrestlemania I, he also interviewed Liberace in Trump Tower in Manhattan. Okerlund described the scene in a 2017 interview with Sports Illustrated saying, “I originally interviewed Liberace in his penthouse at Trump Tower. I was there with Liberace, and my wife also came in, and she ran into [famous actor] Yul Brynner, who was doing his final tour with ‘The King and I’ on Broadway.”


4. Okerlund Is Being Mourned by Some of Wrestling’s Biggest Names


Papa Shango puts a voodoo curse on Mean Gene Okerlund: Superstars, June 6, 1992Mean Gene falls to Papa Shango's curse. More WWE – wwe.com/2013-03-06T18:01:42.000Z

As news of Okerlund’s passing spread, some of the wrestling’s biggest names have taken to Twitter to mourn the legendary broadcaster. Here are some of the most poignant tributes:

While comedian Kevin Hart, who starred with Okerlund in a Mountain Dew commercial in 2018, also paid tribute in an Instagram post:

View this post on Instagram

RIP to the legend "Mean Gene Okerlund"

A post shared by Kevin Hart (@kevinhart4real) on Jan 2, 2019 at 9:35am PST


5. Jeanne’s Son Represented the United States at the 1988 Winter Olympics

Okerlund’s son is hockey player Todd Okerlund. Playing on the right-wing, Todd was a star at the University of Minnesota before entering the NHL draft in 1982. Todd was drafted by the New York Islanders 168th overall. Sadly, a severe knee injury meant the Todd never fulfilled his potential and he ended up only playing four games for the Islanders. Todd also spent a season playing with the Springfield Falcons in the American Hockey League. In 1988, Todd Okerlund represented the United States at the 1988 Winter Olympics in Calgary.

A 2012 feature on Todd Okerlund in the Minneapolis Star-Tribune referred to him as the founder of Classicwrestling.com. During that interview, Todd Okerlund said that he wouldn’t mind seeing his son become a wrestler.

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