Dale Schroeder was a carpenter from Des Moines, Iowa. He worked for the same company doing carpentry for 67 years. Dale grew up poor, and never had a wife or children of his own.
His friend Steve Nielson described him as a hard working blue collar man. He said Dale “went to work everyday. Worked really hard. Was frugal. Like a lot of Iowans.”
When Dale passed away in 2005, nobody knew exactly how much money he had saved. Apparently he had saved up quite a fortune over the years, and because he had no living descendants he came up with a plan for his money with a lawyer.
“He said, ‘I never got the opportunity to go to college. So, I’d like to help kids go to college,'” said Nielson. Schroeder had saved up enough money to send more than a few kids to college. 33 kids to be exact.
Nielson asked, “‘How much are we talking about, Dale?’ And he said, ‘Oh, just shy of $3 million.’ I nearly fell out of my chair.” He was shocked by Dale’s secret, as were the random strangers who received portions of it.
Kira Conard was one lucky person who received part of Schroeder’s fortune. She had the grades to attend college, but never had enough money to do so. “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,” Kira said.
Kira’s phone rang one day, and she nearly broke into tears as the man on the line told her about Schroeder and his plan to distribute his fortune. Schroeder’s instructions were clear, to send small town Iowa kids to college that were not fortunate enough to do so on their own.
Dale wanted to help out kids that were like him growing up, and give them an opportunity that not everyone is lucky enough to have. Schroeder paid for 33 strangers’ college tuitions, and is reponsible for changing the lives of all of them.
Many of them are now doctors, therapists, teachers, and most of all, friends. Schroeder had just one request for the recipients of the money, and that way to 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.”