Gold Rush’s “Grandpa” Turns 96 Today!




Our friends at the Discovery Channel and Gold Rush provided this report on star Parker Schnabel’s grandfather, John, who turns 96 years young today! Happy birthday, John!


As anyone who watches Discovery Channel’s mega-hit series GOLD RUSH knows, John Schnabel has been a guiding force to his grandson Parker. Born in 1920, John is the son of a Kansas wheat farmer. His father brewed bootleg alcohol during prohibition and the family had to leave the farm when the US Marshals came looking for him. At 19 years old, John packed up his possessions and took a steamer north to Haines, Alaska, where he joined his father, who had set up a sawmill.

John has certain seen and experienced much of the world. The day after Pearl Harbor was bombed, he volunteered to join the US Navy, but was placed in the Air Corps. After the war he returned to Haines and bought Porcupine Mill, which he renovated to produce 10,000 feet of board wood per day. John went on to open a local hardware store and was later even elected mayor of Haines!

At 68, John suffered heart problems and underwent a triple bypass. His doctor recommended that he keep active so John bought the Big Nugget mine and started gold mining. He taught his grandsons Payson and Parker how to prospect, pan and operate equipment and passed on to them his passion for gold mining.

Today John – affectionately known as Grandpa – turns 96 years old. He continues to be a guiding force to all those who know him (as well as the millions of fans of GOLD RUSH). He lives his life with optimism and believes a positive attitude improves your chances of longevity and quality of life.

We recently caught up with Grandpa to hear what advice he has to share. Check out the video below. Wishing him a very happy and healthy 96th birthday!

What would you tell a young person is the most important virtue to have?
I think the most important virtue to have is honesty. You have to be honest. When you tell the other member who you’re addressing that you love them … that you’re being honest. When you tell the other person you love them – if you’re honest in what you’re saying – you’re going to be a winner. If you’re telling them because that’s what they want to hear, then you’re a loser.

What is the best way to deal with difficult people?
Don’t give up on them. If a person is being difficult, try to find out why. If you can develop an ability to have some measure of empathy with them that will enable you to understand why they act the way they act …you can be a very valuable element in making their life better.

If you could go back 50 years and choose to do something different, what would it be and why?
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.

Be sure to check out Discovery’s #1-rated series GOLD RUSH airing Fridays at 9 PM ET/PT