DES MOINES, Iowa – A carpenter who left behind two pair of jeans and a rusty old truck paid for 33 strangers to get a college education.
Dale Schroeder was a simple man who grew up poor, never went to college, and never got married. He worked at the same business for 67 years, KCCI reports.
“He was that kind of a blue-collar, lunch pail kind of a guy,” Schroeder’s friend Steve Nielsen told the Des Moines television station. “Went to work every day, worked really hard, was frugal like a lot of Iowans.”
When Schroeder died in 2005, he had no descendants. What he did have was a pair of work jeans, a pair of church jeans, a rusty Chevrolet truck, and a desire to help kids in small Iowa towns go to college.
“He wanted to help kids that were like him that probably wouldn’t have an opportunity to go to college but for his gift,” Nielsen said.
Over his nearly 70 years of carpentry work and frugal living, Schroeder had saved up nearly $3 million. Much of that money went into a scholarship fund.
Saturday night, the 33 Iowans Schroeder put through college gathered around his old lunch box and dubbed themselves Dale’s kids.
Kira Conard told how four years ago, she had the grades to go to college but not 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,” Conrad said.
Then her phone rang, and she learned about Schroeder.
“I broke down into tears immediately,” she said.
Conrad is graduating from college debt-free and looking to start a career as a therapist.
Dale’s Kids all finished college without debt, but there was one string attached.
“All we ask is that you pay it forward,” Nielsen said. “You can’t pay it back because Dale’s gone, but you can remember him and you can emulate him.”