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'Gold Rush' Star John Schnabel Found Dead

Gold Rush John Schnabel Dead

Mar. 19 2016, Updated 7:06 p.m. ET

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John Schnabel, star of the hit Discover Channel reality show Gold Rush, has died at age 96.

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

The family fled Kansas to Alaska during the prohibition era, when authorities caught wind of their alcohol bootlegging operation. After a career in service to the United States Military, Schnabel started a family and purchased the Gold Nugget Mine at age 68 as a way to remain active following a triple bypass surgery. He had since passed the mining business along to his grandsons.

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Discovery will pay tribute to John Schnabel beginning Friday night at 7pm during a Gold Rush special.

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