Lifestyle & Human Interest

Survivor's Oldest Contestant Rudy Boesch Dies at 91


Rudy Boesch, a two-time competitor on the reality television series, “Survivor,” and decorated U.S. Navy veteran, died Friday at the age of 91 after battling Alzheimer’s disease.

Boesch rose to popularity on the inaugural season of “Survivor” in 2000, beating out contestants half his age and placing third. He was 72 at the time and known on the show as the old guy with the no-nonsense and blunt personality.

To date, Boesch is the oldest contestant to appear on the show. His death was confirmed on Saturday by Steve Gonzalez, Director of Operations of SEAL Veterans Foundation in Virginia Beach.

“Master Chief Rudy Boesch passed away last night. He was surrounded by his family and passed away peacefully,” Gonzalez told The Hollywood Reporter.

“He proudly served our nation from 1944-1990 and his impact on the men and women of Naval Special Warfare and the Special Operations Command is immeasurable… Rudy was beloved by all and will be deeply missed.”

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According to People, Boesch, who completed two combat deployments during the Vietnam War and earned a Bronze Star for his heroism, had been facing the final battle of his life: Alzheimer’s disease.

“It is with a broken heart that we inform you that Master Chief Rudy Boesch passed away last night,” the UDT/SEAL Association wrote on Instagram.

“Master Chief was a legend in the SEAL and Special Operations community. Rudy proudly served our Nation from 1944-1990 and his impact on so many individuals continues today. Please join us in respecting his family’s wishes of privacy until we can release more details. God Speed Rudy!”

Boesch joined the Navy at age 17 in 1945 and served for 45 years before retiring in 1990, E! News reported.

He was among the first to be chosen for the founding unit of Navy SEALs, where he remained until 1988 before moving on to join the U.S. Special Operations Command.

In 2004, Boesch returned to Survivor for the All-Star competition during season eight. He was the second contestant to be eliminated.

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As much as Boesch enjoyed the tough challenge of appearing on “Survivor,” he prized his time in the military.

“The best life in the world,” Boesch told The Virginian-Pilot in 2014. “‘Survivor’ was nothing compared to what I did, and it’s just that way.”

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A graduate of Grand Canyon University, Kim Davis has been writing for The Western Journal since 2015, focusing on lifestyle stories.
Kim Davis began writing for The Western Journal in 2015. Her primary topics cover family, faith, and women. She has experience as a copy editor for the online publication Thoughtful Women. Kim worked as an arts administrator for The Phoenix Symphony, writing music education curriculum and leading community engagement programs throughout the region. She holds a degree in music education from Grand Canyon University with a minor in eating tacos.
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