‘Survivor’ Favorite Rudy Boesch Is Dead at the Age of 91

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Survivor competitor Rudy Boesch is dead at the age of 91. The military powerhouse, who was by far the oldest contestant to appear on the very first season of the reality competition show, passed away after a long battle with Alzheimer’s Disease.

“I grew to love that cantankerous man and his family,” former Survivor contestant Richard Hatch told People magazine. “We are better people for having known him, and he will be sorely missed. I wish his family peace in their grieving his loss.”

Fans will recall that Hatch and Boesch ended up forming quite the strong relationship on that inaugural season of the show back in 2000.

“Rudy Boesch and I both served our country in the military: he in the Navy, and I in the Army,” Hatch said about the season in which he won and Boesch came in third. “But Rudy also served our country as an example of honesty and open-mindedness by respectfully engaging and aligning with me, an openly homosexual man, to play Survivor on the world stage.”

Boesch was so popular with fans of the show that he was invited back to appear on Survivor: All Stars just a few years after his season was through.

“What you saw on TV is exactly the man he was,” fellow Survivor contestant Tina Wesson told People. “He was tough as nails suffering from a bad case of gout on Survivor All-Stars but never really complaining about it, though his foot looked like it may fall off! Rudy passionately loved two things: his wife and the military. It was just that simple. He has always had the respect of every young whippersnapper who came out to play Survivor. Because none of us could do what he did at his age!”

Boesch’s wife passed away in 2008. He is survived by three children. Funeral arrangements have yet to be announced.