Dale Schroeder was described as a simple, humble man. He grew up poor and worked as a carpenter for the same company for 67 years.
“He was that kind of a blue-collar, lunch pail kind of a guy,” Schroeder’s friend Steve Nielsen told KCCI. “Went to work every day, worked really hard, was frugal like a lot of Iowans.”
He never married and had no children. Before he passed away in 2005, he told his friend he wanted to use his money to help those less fortunate.
“He said, ‘I never got the opportunity to go to college. So, I’d like to help kids go to college”
“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,” Nielsen recalled.
Schroeder left specific instructions for his money: send small town Iowa kids to college.
“He wanted to help kids that were like him,” Nielsen said, “That probably wouldn’t have an opportunity to go to college but for his gift.”
One student, Kira Conrad, told KCCI that Nielsen called her to let her know she’d be receiving $80,000 for her scholarship.
“I broke down into tears immediately,” she told Newsweek. “For a man that would never meet me, to give me basically a full ride to college, that’s incredible. That doesn’t happen.”
Over the 14 years since his death, Schroeder’s $3 million has paid for 33 low-income Iowan students to go to college.
The group, who has dubbed themselves “Dale’s kids,” all finished college without debt. They’re now doctors, teachers, therapists — and friends. Earlier this month they got together to honor the man who changed their lives.