A Carpenter Lived Below His Means For His Whole Life So He Could Set Up A Scholarship Fund & Send Kids To College

He used his life savings to send kids he never knew to college, allowing them to achieve a dream he never got to fulfill himself.

Dale Schroeder, graduation YouTube & Pixabay / Pexels

A carpenter from Des Moines, Iowa, worked at the same business for 67 years, living below his means to amass savings that he spent on people he'd never get to meet.

Dale Schroeder was born in 1919 and lived until 2005. He never married and had no living descendants — that is, except the kids he sent to college.

When Schroeder died in 2005, he left behind a rusty truck, two pairs of jeans — one pair for work and one for church — and $3 million.


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Schroeder used his $3 million savings to set up a college scholarship fund for students who otherwise couldn’t afford it.

Steve Nielsen, Schroeder’s friend, and lawyer, reported that before his death, Schroeder came to his office with the intent of establishing a scholarship fund.

“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 explained.

Schroeder never had the chance to go to college, but he wanted to give others the opportunity to attend. According to Nielsen’s account, he asked Schroeder how much money he’d saved for his scholarship. “He said, ‘Oh, just shy of $3 million.’ I nearly fell out of my chair."


College is more expensive currently than it has ever been before. The Education Data Initiative reports that the average cost of attending and living on campus at a public, 4-year, in-state institution is $102,828. Out-of-state students pay $176,056 over the course of 4 years. Students at private universities pay an average of $218,004 over 4 years. 

The Education Data Initiative also reports that the average amount of federal student loan debt is $37,667.

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Schroeder’s scholarship fund has sent 33 students to college, who were able to graduate without debt.

They’ve become teachers, therapists, and doctors, all seeking a way to give back to their community. One such student, Kira Conard, wouldn’t have been able to attend college were it not for Schroeder’s generosity.


Conard explained that she was the fourth child of a single parent, and her family didn’t have enough money for her to continue her education after high school. Schroeder’s posthumous gift allowed Conard to pursue her dream of becoming a therapist.

“For a man that would never meet me to give me basically a full ride to college, that’s incredible. That doesn’t happen.” But it did happen, all thanks to Dale Schroeder.

The 33 Iowans who were the beneficiaries of the scholarship met up to pay tribute to the man who gave them a chance to receive a college education.

They call themselves “Dale’s Kids.” They got together to celebrate Schroeder and their own accomplishments. They sat around Schroeder’s old lunchbox to honor him and share updates on their lives.


“All we ask is that you pay it forward,” Nielsen said, of the stipulations for the scholarship. “You can remember him, and you can emulate him.”

Dale’s Kids are carrying his legacy into the future, promising to give back as he gave to them.

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Alexandra Blogier is a writer on YourTango's news and entertainment team. She covers celebrity gossip, pop culture analysis and all things to do with the entertainment industry.