John Schnabel died this week at the age of 96, but fans of the Gold Rush star are turning online to remember the beloved and legendary Alaskan miner.
Here is a gathering of Grandpa Schnabel’s most memorable moments from Gold Rush, including some heartwarming clips where he interacts with his grandson, Parker Schnabel. Grandpa served as Parker’s mentor as he moved from a teen working in the gold mine to leading the entire operation himself.
“It never came to mind that Parker could have a future in mining until he was 16. I decided to give up mining after I was diagnosed with cancer, and he asked me if he could continue operating the mine,” John Schnabel said in a 2014 interview. “Although I had a few misgivings, I finally gave in and helped him with paperwork and financing to give him a start. He has measured up in all areas, and I am proud of him.”
Much of Gold Rush focused on the relationship between John and his grandson. Here is a clip from late 2004, as John Schnabel was just starting chemotherapy and lived out his wish to mine Silver creek with his grandsons one last time.
John Schnabel’s health was also a major point of the show. The 2014 season ended with a cliffhanger as fans didn’t know whether John survived a health scare. He was still alive, but the finale sent thousands of fans to the internet to find out if Schnabel had died.
In his later years, Schnabel survived a scare with cancer, eventually returning to help oversee Parker at the family’s gold mining operation.
But it will be difficult to show many of the exciting events from John Schnabel’s life, as most happened long before The Discovery Channel’s cameras showed up. He was born to a Kansas farmer in 1920 and fled to Alaska in his younger years when federal agents came looking for a bootleg alcohol brewing operation he was involved with. He joined the U.S. Air Corps after the bombing of Pearl Harbor, then returned to Alaska and married Erma Dire in 1950.
John Schnabel got into the gold mining business almost by accident, Hollywood Life reported. After he underwent major heart surgery, John’s doctor said he would have to remain active. To Schnabel, that meant purchasing the Gold Nugget Mine in Porcupine Creek, Alaska, and going into the mining business.
Many fans have left messages of support and remembrance for the legendary miner.
Family members also shared their remembrance.
“We couldn’t have asked for a better father, grandfather and overall family man,” the Schnabel family said in a statement to People magazine. “He was a true legend and we appreciate all of your love and support as we celebrate his wonderful life.”
The Discovery Channel also did its part to remember John Schnabel, airing a two-hour special of Gold Rush on Friday that included his most memorable appearances.
[Image via The Discovery Channel]