Gold Rush’s Grandpa John died today at age 96

Grandpa_John Barb Oates

Gold Rush fans around the world mourn the loss of the beloved John Schnabel. Grandpa John died this morning. Parker Schnabel took to Twitter to thank fans for their condolences, stating: “Thank you all for the kind words. Grandpa John lived a great life and was one of a kind. I am glad the world got to see an amazinGold Rush's Grandpa John Schnabelg man.”

Discovery provided the following statement from the Schnabel family: “We couldn’t have asked for a better father, grandfather and overall family man. He was a true legend and we appreciate all of your love and support as we celebrate his wonderful life.”

Grandpa John shared his gold mining expertise with his grandson Parker Schnabel on Discovery Channel’s hit series Gold Rush for six seasons. He just recently celebrated his 96th birthday on Feb. 11.

When we talked to Parker earlier this month just before the season finale, which he won, we asked him what Grandpa John had to say about his sixth season. “He was stoked. Actually, we were just down for his birthday. We had a great time. He’s 96 now.”

Schnabel familyBorn 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.

He was a fabulous mentor, grandfather and TV personality people came to love. R.I.P.


Images Credit: Discovery Channel


  1. Hello Parker and Family,
    It’s later dan I wanted to send you our condolences for you and your family. Every Sunday we watch Gold Rush. We heard it on TV and I saw it because they annouced the episode in remembering off your Grandpa ! My father Andre died last year 2015 in the same week . He was 92 years !
    When I was with him we both watch your serie and talked about it, especially the hard times and the bad weathers to do that kind of work. We wish you a lot of wisdom he always was giving you. We will remember him as a very special man and we will miss him.
    From the Netherlands we wish you good luck and lots of happiness !

  2. Omg! 🙁 i have watch this show because of u and grandpa John! You and grandpa relationship was something special and amazing.

  3. Only just found out about John RIP a sad loss for you and your family Parker our deepest sympathy love the series watch it always .

  4. Parker, you are the son every mother dreams of. The relationship with grandpa was exceptional. I’m sadden he is gone and you are hurting but, he is right, you will be okay. I started watching the show because I have a grandson that looks like you. I will be watching next season. Enjoy the life your grandpa started you on.

  5. I am so much going to miss Grandpa John, I loved watching him and Parker together, what a amazing man. His insight in mining and his
    love for Parker was awesome to watch. Parker and his grandpa were why I watched Gold Rush, I was always praying Parker would make his cut. I hope the show goes to season 7. It won’t be the same w/o Grandpa John but I knows he is there in spirit. God Bless your family a love like that is rare

  6. Parker: My condolences to you & your family. I have watched Gold Rush from the beginning & have enjoyed every episode. It is one of my favourite shows. When I learned of Grandpas passing I just cried & cried. I know he was 96 & that he most likely had a full life but I never wanted him to go to Heaven. He, like you are & were so enjoyable to watch.I like you will miss him dearly. Have your memories & be who he wanted you to be. Take so very good care of yourself.

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