Rudy Boesch, Original ‘Survivor’ Contestant, Dies at 91

Boesch appeared on the debut season of the CBS reality show

Rudy Boesch Survivor
Jason Merritt/Getty Images

Rudy Boesch, a contestant during the inaugural season of CBS’ “Survivor,” has died following a battle with Alzheimer’s disease, according to People. He was 91.

Boesch, a former Navy seal, was one of the oldest “Survivor” contestants in the show’s history, at 72. He finished third on that first season in 2000, which was won by Richard Hatch. Boesch made it all the way to the final episode and became a fan favorite throughout the season. He returned to “Survivor” for the show’s “All Stars” edition for its eighth season. He was the second contestant voted off the island.

“Ours was an interesting bond, Dear Rudy! You and I helped open minds and undermine predjudces [sic]. While your time here has passed, you will remain loved and iconic, dear friend!” Hatch tweeted.

Fellow Season 1 contender, Rob Cesternino, also offered his condolences.

Boesch enlisted in the Navy after World War II in 1945, becoming one of the first Navy Seals in 1962. He earned the Bronze Star for his time in the Vietnam War, where he deployed twice. He retired from the Navy in 1990.

“It is with a broken heart that we inform you that Master Chief Rudy Boesch passed away last night. Master Chief was a legend in the SEAL/Special Operations community and had a special place in the hearts of so many in Hampton Roads,” a local radio station based in Virginia, where Boesch lived, wrote on its Facebook page. “Rudy proudly served our Nation from 1944-1990 and his impact on so many individuals continues today.”