John Schnabel, the patriarch of “Gold Rush’s” Schnabel family, has died at the age of 96, reports People.

“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,” says the family in a statement to the site.

RELATED: ‘Deadliest Catch’ captain Tony Lara dies at Sturgis motorcycle rally

The Big Gold Nugget Mine in Porcupine Creek, Alaska has been in Schnabel’s family since he purchased it in the 1980s after doctors told him he needed to be more active after a health scare. Grandson Parker, who is one of “Gold Rush’s” featured gold miners, took over operations of the mine from his grandfather six years ago. Parker took to Twitter to thank fans for their kind words after Schnabel’s passing.

Schnabel, who was born in 1920 in Kansas and moved to Alaska in the 1930s, was a World War II veteran, having served in the Air Corps from 1941 to 1946. He married Erma Dire after the war; the couple has five children.

A special featuring Schnabel and his grandson Parker, who is one of “Gold Rush’s” featured gold miners, is airing Friday (March 18) at 9 p.m. ET/PT on Discovery.

Posted by:Andrea Reiher

TV critic by way of law school, Andrea Reiher enjoys everything from highbrow drama to clever comedy to the best reality TV has to offer. Her TV heroes include CJ Cregg, Spencer Hastings, Diane Lockhart, Juliet O'Hara and Buffy Summers. TV words to live by: "I'm a slayer, ask me how."