Boesch died peacefully Friday night in palliative care in Virginia Beach, Virginia, surrounded by loved ones, said Steve Gonzalez, chief operating officer of SEAL Veterans Foundation.
"He was a legend in the SEAL teams long before & # 39; Survivor & # 39;" said Gonzalez. "Rudy was loved by everyone and will be sorely missed."
Boesch was part of the "Survivor" debut cast in 2000, coming in third. At 72, Boesch was the oldest participant of all time on the CBS program. He turned out to be as popular as a stupid but adorable character who was invited to season eight, "Survivor: All Stars".
Survivor star Rudy Boesch attended the finale of "Survivor All-Stars" on May 9, 2004 at Madison Square Garden in New York. Photo: Paul Hawthorne / Getty Images
He and his colleague Richard Hatch – who won the inaugural season – became friends and formed an alliance.
Hatch acknowledged an "interesting bond" with "Dear Rudy" on Saturday.
"You and I help open our minds and undermine prejudice," he tweeted. "As your time here has passed, you will continue to be loved and iconic, dear friend!"
Another Survivor participant, Jonny Fairplay, acknowledged Boesch's death and tweeted about the "legend" on Saturday.
Boesch joined the Navy in 1944 and became one of the first SEALs in 1962. He served two combat tours during the Vietnam War, earning a Bronze Star for heroism, and retired from the Navy in 1990 as a non-commissioned officer.
Before retiring, Boesch was honored as "Chief SEAL" or "Bullfrog". The title marks its time as the oldest SEAL still in service. He remained involved after leaving the Navy, serving on the board of directors of the UDT SEAL Association.
Boesch's wife, 53, Marjorie Thomas, died in 2008. They have three daughters. The funeral arrangements were not announced immediately on Saturday.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.