Iowa Carpenter Left $3 Million in Savings to College Scholarship Fund

Dale Schroeder wanted to give small-town students the educational opportunities he was never afforded. 

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Image via Getty/Win McNamee

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A carpenter in Iowa, who was regarded as a frugal man throughout his life, actually saved $3 million before he died. Prior to passing away in 2005, Dale Schroeder developed a plan for how he wanted his fortune to be allocated—and it involved giving students an opportunity he himself was never afforded. 

Schroeder worked as a carpenter in Des Moines for 67 years, and throughout his adult life kept only the possessions that were absolutely necessary. According to a profile published by CNN, Schroeder had only two pairs of jeans, one for work and the other for church, and never married or had any descendants. His friend Steve Nielsen, a lawyer, described him as a "blue collar, lunch pail kind of guy." 

Schroeder once went to Nielsen with an idea for how he wanted to distribute the fortune he had discreetly amassed. "He said, 'I never got the opportunity to go to college. So, I'd like to help kids go to college,'" Nielsen recalled. "Finally, I was curious and I said, 'How much are we talking about, Dale?' And he said, 'Oh, just shy of $3 million.' I nearly fell out of my chair." Schroeder's instructions were specific: send small town kids from Iowa to college. 

Dale Schroeder had no children of his own to inherit his stash of money – but he did have a plan for it. Now, 33 strangers consider themsleves his "kids."

— Local 12/WKRC-TV (@Local12) July 25, 2019

Prior to receiving Dale's contribution to her future, Kira Conard was a high-school student with dreams of becoming a therapist. "I grew up in a single parent household and I had three older sisters, so paying for all four of us was never an option," Conrad explained. When she received a call from a stranger offering her a scholarship, she "broke down into tears immediately."

Schroeder's gift has since paid for the college tuition of 33 students, who have dubbed themselves "Dale's Kids," and are now working in a variety of professions. Since repaying him is not an option, the recipients of his generosity want to remember the man who paved the way for students who, like him, wouldn't otherwise be afforded educational opportunity

"All we ask is that you pay it forward," Nielsen said. "You can't pay it back, because Dale is gone, but you can remember him and you can emulate him." 

This man sent 33 strangers to college using his life savings from working at the same job as a carpenter for 67 years

— CNN (@CNN) July 19, 2019

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