Dale Schroeder, a carpenter from Des Moines, Iowa, who never went to college, never got married, worked at the same business for 67 years, owned two pair of jeans and an old rusty truck, paid for 33 strangers to get a college education, according to KCCI.
Dale Schroeder was a simple man. He grew up poor. Over his nearly 70 years of carpentry work and frugal living, Schroeder had accumulated nearly $3 million in savings.
“He was that kind of a blue-collar, lunch pail kind of a guy,” Schroeder’s friend Steve Nielsen said. “Went to work every day, worked really hard, was frugal like a lot of Iowans.”
Years ago, Schroeder went into his lawyer’s office.
“He said I never got the opportunity to go to college and so I’d like to help kids go to college,” Nielsen said. “Finally, I kinda was curious, I said how much are we talking about Dale? And he said, ‘oh just shy of $3 million and I nearly fell out of my chair.”
Schroeder had no offspring when he died in 2005. What he did have was a pair of work jeans, a pair of church jeans, a rusty Chevrolet truck and a willingness to help small-town children in Iowa go to college, Nielsen said.
This past week, 14 years after the death of a man they never met, the 33 Iowans he put through college gathered around his old lunch box and dubbed themselves Dale’s kids.
Kira Conard, one of 33 Dale’s kids, had the grades 4 years ago, but she did not have the tuition money.
“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,” she said to WBNS.
She was preparing to inform her friends at her high school graduation party that she would not go to university. That is until her phone rang, and she learned about Dale Schroeder.
“I broke down into tears immediately,” Conard recalled.
“For a man that would never meet me, to give me basically a full ride to College, that’s incredible. That doesn’t happen,” Conard said.
Now she’s graduating college debt-free and looking to start her career as a therapist.
All Dale’s Kids started their careers with no college debt. But they found out there was a string attached.
“All we ask is that you pay it forward. You can’t pay it back, because Dale’s gone. But you can remember him and you can emulate him,” Nielsen said.
After paying the full $80,000 tuition for Conard and the others, Schroeder’s account ended up running out of money.