TV’s Best Grandpa turns 96! Send some love to Gold Rush’s Grandpa John

Gold Rush's Grandpa John Schnabel Barb Oates

Now that’s some pay dirt – turning 96! Gold Rush’s Grandpa John Schnabel is the grandpa everyone would love to have. He’s a simple man with a heart of gold and a mountain of wisdom. Grandpa John has been sharing his unconditional love and gold mining expertise (he’s really a life coach) with his grandson Parker Schnabel on Discovery Channel’s hit series Gold Rush, now in its sixth season. On Thursday, Feb. 11 Grandpa John turns 96.

Gold Rush's Grandpa John SchnabelBorn and raised in Kansas, John Schnabel packed his bags and headed north to Haines, Alaska, at just 19 years of age to join his father at making a go in the saw milling industry. He wasn’t there long before he turned his attention to serving his country during World War II, where he was in the Air Corps. After the war he returned to Haines where he purchased a mill and then later opened a hardware store. He even served as mayor of Haines. Not exactly sure when he officially started mining but he bought his first mine at age 68 — Big Nugget — and it was there that he taught Parker and Parker’s brother Payton to prospect, mine and handle all of the equipment.

When it comes to reality TV these days there are few characters who you genuinely really care for in an endearing way, Grandpa John is one of them. He’s a gentle man who has shared his optimism and appreciation of hard work, crediting his longevity and quality of life to having a positive attitude. How’s that for a role model, kids!

“Optimism is the first ingredient that will allow you to succeed,” Grandpa John shares in a Q&A segment of Gold Rush. “Optimism gives you the strength to face difficulties otherwise you would just lay down and quit. I think you have to enjoy what you are doing and frankly that is almost as important as anything else — if you don’t enjoy your work you’re in the wrong place and you need to get out of that position.”

Discovery Network reps asked Grandpa John what he would do if he could go back 50 years and choose to do something different. He told them: “It’s a thought I’ve never entertained for the simple reason that I am pleased with what I did. I’ve raised a beautiful family, I’ve helped a lot of people overcome their difficulties, I’ve tried my best to be a contributor to others — never to ask them to give something to me. If they want to give me something, I want to feel I’ve earned it. Because whether it’s their time or their help, I have to feel I’ve earned it. Or I don’t think I have done the right thing.”

What a gratifying life to have no regrets or do-over wishes. Hats off to Grandpa John. Happy 96th! XOXO from your Channel Guide Magazine friends.


  1. I will always smile when I here pop-pop he was always happy and tried to give good advice to Parker 96 is I great life good bless

  2. My heart goes out to the family and fans, feel like I lost a very dear friend.
    Sending prayers and love.

  3. John was such a man as we all know,Parker you remember that ur grappa was the world to you…but ur making an pa was a huge factor.gutted and so upset.god will help you..if any one txt or shit be buzzin

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