Phil Varlese passed this along.
My partner at Coastal Pro Wrestling, Fred Rubenstein, let me know this morning that he’d received a call from Doc Diamond of the Pro Wrestling Hall of Fame that Gene Petit, aka Hillbilly Cousin Luke had passed away.
Gene had been in a long term health care facility for several years, the result of complications from diabetes.
Petit’s time with the WWF started with an unenthusiastic response to his query about joining the promotion. Petit then showed Scott a picture he had taken of himself as a joke, in which he wore “cutoff jeans, overalls, and a floppy hat”. After seeing the picture, Scott offered Petit the role of Cousin Luke, a member of the Hillbilly Family led by Hillbilly Jim. As part of this gimmick, Petit was silent and expressionless and portrayed a rural Southerner who did not know how to wrestle. He joined the other hillbillies in their feud with Roddy Piper, Bob Orton Jr, and Jesse Ventura. Shortly after joining the company, however, Petit broke his ankle due to a problem with a defective wrestling ring. He was asked to compete at Wrestlemania 2, the WWF’s biggest show of the year, but had to decline due to the injury.
Petit was also a promoter, hosting successful wrestling shows throughout the northern and central New Jersey area.
On behalf of Fred Ruberstein and Coastal Pro Wrestling, I offer our condolences to the family of Gene Petit.