Rudy Boesch, who was a contestant on season one of Survivor, died Friday night after a long battle with Alzheimer’s disease, multiple outlets report. He was 91.
Born in Rochester, New York, Boesch competed in the augural Borneo season of the reality competition show in 2000, after serving in the U.S. Navy for 45 years. He was 72 at the time, and still holds the title as the oldest contestant to ever compete.
Boesch placed third, but was a fan-favorite from the beginning due to his beloved personality. He later returned for Survivor: All-Stars (season 8), exiting the competition as the second contestant to be sent home.
While Boesch loved his time on Survivor, it was no secret that nothing could compare to his first true love for the Navy.
"The best life in the world. Survivor was nothing compared to what I did, and it’s just that way," he said in an interview with The Virginian Pilot in 2014, adding that he's lived in the same Virginia Beach home for 65 years and that his three daughters and grandchild live nearby.
After hearing the news on Saturday, friends and family of Boesch took to social media to pay tribute.
"I heard the news today about my old roommate RUDY BOESCH passing away," wrote Rob Cesternino. "While I'm incredibly sad for the Boesch family, I'm so happy for the time that he and I shared and the many, many laughs we had on our adventure. RIP Rudy."
I heard the news today about my old roommate RUDY BOESCH passing away. While I'm incredibly sad for the Boesch family, I'm so happy for the time that he and I shared and the many, many laughs we had on our adventure. RIP Rudy pic.twitter.com/XnQpr73uqx— Rob Cesternino 🛎 (@robcesternino) November 2, 2019
See more heartfelt tributes below:
One of the rare Survivor eliminations where everyone was sad as hell because they didn't want Rudy to leave but they had to. RIP Rudy Boesch. 😔https://t.co/jGQEz8duxS— spooky ara 👻 (@arakubrick) November 2, 2019
Today not only did the #Survivor world lose a truly iconic castaway, but the world also lost a real American hero. There will never be another person like Rudy Boesch and we will forever love and appreciate you #RudyBoeschpic.twitter.com/FxnHWlmR4D— Survivor Quotes X (@SurvivorQuotesX) November 2, 2019
Rest In Peace Rudy Boesch. God bless— Carl Higbie (@CarlHigbie) November 2, 2019
I’m still a massive Survivor fan because of its ability to reflect America’s social issues every year it airs, starting back in 2000 when retired Navy SEAL Rudy Boesch struck up a friendship with @HatchRichard. Rudy passed away today at 91. https://t.co/Cu8NbSayzF— Dave Jorgenson 🧈 (@davejorgenson) November 2, 2019