"Gold Rush" Patriarch John Schnabel Passes Away at 96, Discovery Honors Him On-Air

Kimberly RipleyLife

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Gold Rush patriarch John Schnabel died Friday morning at the age of 96. His grandson, Parker Schnabel, shared word of his passing via social media.

Early this morning my grandfather passed away after battling with several severe health issues. He was an amazing...

Posted by Parker Schnabel on Friday, March 18, 2016

Several hours later, Parker shared yet another tribute to the Gold Rush legend.

He lived a good life ! Rest in peace my friend. Always a smile till the bitter end.

Posted by Parker Schnabel on Friday, March 18, 2016

John Schnabel owned the Big Nugget Mine near Haines, which is located in Southeast Alaska--as featured in Discovery's Gold Rush. He first suffered heart problems at the age of 68, undergoing a triple bypass at that time. His doctor recommended he stay busy, so he bought the mine, and set about teaching his two grandsons how to prospect, pan, and operate the equipment used in gold mining.

Haines, Alaska's mayor, Janice Hill, expressed sorrow over the Gold Rush patriarch's passing.

“Everywhere I went today people were sharing the news and expressing their condolences,” she said.

Hill grew up with John Schnabel's children. She said at some point in time most everyone in Haines was involved in John Schnabel's businesses.

“We all do what we need to do in order to live here, because we want to live here,” she said. “And he certainly fit that lifestyle.”

It's clear that John Schnabel was a legend and that he will be sorely missed--not only by his family, but from the townspeople, too.

John Schnabel was honored by Discovery, the network that produces Gold Rush, ahead of a two-hour airing of the show on Friday night.

Kimberly Ripley

Kimberly Ripley is a freelance writer and published author from Portsmouth, New Hampshire. A wife, mom of five and ‘Nana’ to Lilly and Aiden, she loves cooking for her big family and watching HGTV in her spare time. Kim is guilty of starting way more home design projects than she can finish. Visit her at Twitter and Facebook.