Rudy was born May 10, 1941 at Hubbard Hospital, Hubbard, Oregon, to Jake and Elizabeth (Hunt)
Sonnen. Rudy graduated from North Marion High School in 1959 where he lettered in wrestling, baseball and track, and graduated from Oregon College of Education in 1964 where he lettered in wrestling. Rudy married Paulette René Gleason on February 27, 1965 and they raised four boys, Lowell, Sid, Ty and Cory, in Woodburn, Oregon.
Rudy was a member of the Rodeo Cowboys Association competing in bareback, saddle bronc and bull riding throughout the Pacific Northwest. Rudy taught biology and was head wrestling coach at Dallas High School, worked for Green Seed Company, owned his own seed company with his sons, was a farmer, bred and raised race horses and was a pilot.
Rudy was a loving husband, supporting and involved father and giving grandfather and uncle. Rudy was the rock of the Sonnen family with a kind and compassionate soul. Rudy was a master storyteller (whether true or fiction) and had a subtle but wicked sense of humor. Rudy enjoyed reading, westerns, travelling, hunting, fishing, skirting the bounds of the law and spending his wife's money at the local casinos. Rudy was a member of the Black Hat Gang and the best cornerman in the history of the UFC.
Rudy was preceded in death by his father Jake Sonnen, mother Elizabeth (Hunt) Sonnen and brother Pat Sonnen. He is survived by his wife Paulette, brother Rick, four sons Lowell, Sid, Ty and Cory, nine grandchildren and one greatgrandchild.