John Schnabel Dies; Reality Show Patriarch Was 96

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John Schnabel, the patriarch of the family featured on the Discovery reality show Gold Rush, passed away peacefully on Friday in his sleep.

He was 96 years old.

John Schnabel

Schnabel was a military veteran who got into the gold mining business later in life after physicians suggested he keep remain after triple bypass surgery.

He grew into an anchor on Discovery's popular, Alaska-based gold mining show, which focuses mostly on his grandson, Parker Schnabel. It recently wrapped Season 6.

"We couldn't have asked for a better father, grandfather and overall family man," the Schnabel family tells Peopple in a statement. "He was a true legend and we appreciate all of your love and support as we celebrate his wonderful life." 

Born in 1920 in Kansas, Schnabel bought the Gold Nugget Mine in Porcupine Creek, Alaska nearly three decades ago.

He got married in 1950 and had three children with his wife, Erma.

Discovery aired a special that featured Schnabel and his grandson on Friday evening.

We send our condolences to the entire Schnabel, along with all friends and loved ones.