Hardworking carpenter with secret fortune sends 33 kids to college with his savings

Dale Schroeder, a humble carpenter from Iowa, exemplified the pinnacle of selflessness through his remarkable final act. Having led a simple and diligent life, Dale accumulated a small fortune over his 67-year career working for the same company in Des Moines. Known to be frugal and devoted to his religion, Dale’s wealth remained a secret until he confided in his friend and attorney, Steve Nielsen.

Dale, who passed away in 2005, had no close family members to mourn him. However, his legacy was celebrated by 33 strangers whom he had profoundly impacted through his altruistic intentions. Before his death, Dale had approached Steve with an idea that had been brewing in his heart – he wanted to utilize his savings to help people go to college. Contrary to Steve’s assumption that Dale would allocate a modest sum for this cause, Dale revealed that he wanted to give away over $3 million that he had saved.

Motivated by Dale’s vision, Steve helped him set up a fund to support students who demonstrated academic capabilities but were constrained by financial hardships. Through Dale’s funding, 33 young Iowans, who would have otherwise had to abandon their dreams of higher education, were given the opportunity to attend college. Many of these beneficiaries went on to become influential figures in education and medicine, contributing positively to society.

One of the recipients, Kira Conrad, epitomized the immense gratitude and emotion that Dale’s generosity elicited. Coming from a family that could not afford college tuition, and cognizant of the debilitating debt that education loans could incur, Kira had resigned herself to the fact that college was not within her reach. However, a phone call from Steve informing her of Dale’s scholarship changed her life. Overwhelmed with emotion, Kira later reflected on the selflessness of a man who had never met her but was willing to provide her with a full college scholarship.

Dale’s funding, which was exhausted in 2019, fourteen years after his death, had no stringent criteria or conditions. Dale’s sole request from the beneficiaries was that they “pay it forward.” As Steve conveyed, Dale’s intention was not for the recipients to repay him but to remember him and perpetuate his spirit of giving by helping others.

Dale Schroeder’s legacy, though initially unknown to many, emerged as a powerful and inspiring testament to the transformative impact of selfless giving. The lives he touched, often referred to as his “children,” continue to be custodians of his values and are living examples of the ripple effect that one man’s generosity can have. Dale’s story is a reminder of the remarkable potential within ordinary individuals to make an extraordinary difference in the lives of others.