‘Gold Rush’ Grandfather And Miner John Schnabel Dead At 96

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One of the emotional cores of Discovery’s hit show Gold Rush has passed away. John Schnabel, the owner of the Big Nugget mine and grandfather to show star Parker Schnabel, died in his sleep on Friday morning.

Schnabel has been a fixture on the show since its first season, with his grand son taking a central role in recent seasons. But his interesting story expanded far beyond the confines of the show according to Deadline:

Born in Kansas in 1920, Schnabel was during his life a bootlegger who fled to Alaska to escape the authorities and later, a soldier in the Army Air Corps during World War II. He married Erma Dire in 1950 and the couple went on to have five children together. He became a gold miner late in life, entering the trade to keep active after undergoing triple bypass surgery in 1986.

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