Carpenter from Iowa Secretly Leaves Behind Millions to Send 33 Kids to College for Free

by DailyHealthPost Editorial

We’re often told by economists that money shouldn’t just be “saved” but should be reinvested. Keeping money out of use just isn’t a good way to get the most out of it. And that’s true, however, it doesn’t mean that you can’t just save a nice sum of money either. If your lifestyle isn’t overly complicated and expensive, even with a blue-collar job you can save a lot of money, like Dale Schroeder.

Dale started out as a poor man with no note-worthy monetary inheritance. He worked as a carpenter for the same business all his life and led a simple, quiet life. It should be said that he never married nor had any kids which is a rather key detail regarding his finances.

Dale also had a secret, however. A secret he eventually shared with his attorney and good friend, Steve Nielsen. 


“He was very quiet. Dale was shy.” Nielsen said, adding as an example that Dale only owned two pairs of jeans. “He had church jeans and work jeans.” 

Nielsen thought he knew Dale pretty well until one day his carpenter friend waltzed into his office and shared something extraordinary with him.

“I never got the opportunity to go to college so I’d like to help kids go to college.” Dale told him. And after Nielsen asked him just how much money Dale could donate for this cause, he got the answer – “Oh, just shy of $3 million.” 

“I nearly fell out of my chair,” Nielsen said. 

And since Dale didn’t have any living relatives, putting things into practice wasn’t even that difficult. All Dale wanted to do with his 3 million (and his old, rusty Chevy truck) was send Iowa kids to college.

“He wanted to help kids that were like him, that probably wouldn’t have the opportunity to go to college,” Nielsen elaborated.


Dale Schroeder passed away in 2005 at the age of 84.

33 Iowa kids went to college for free thanks to Dale’s savings. Kids such as Kira Conard – a child of a single-parent home that also had three older siblings, all sisters. Without Dale, Kira Conard and others like her wouldn’t have had the chance to go to college. She had the grades to become a therapist but she didn’t have the money.

“(It) almost made me feel powerless. I want to do this, I have this goal, but I can’t get there, just because of the financial part,” Kira said. Fortunately, Steve Nielsen called her one day and changed her future with Dale’s savings.

“For a man that would never meet me, to give me, basically, a full ride to college… that’s incredible. That doesn’t happen,” Kira still finds it hard to believe.

A happy reunion

And even though Dale never married, even though his obituary said he didn’t have any kids, a recent reunion of 33 teachers, doctors, and therapists proved otherwise. The 33 Iowan kids who Dale never met but sent to college gathered for a lunch in Dale’s honor and dubbed themselves “Dale’s kids”.

The 33 “kids”, now educated adults with successful careers and children of their own, talked and laughed, and reminisced about how much Dale had changed their lives. And the main thing Steve Nielsen reminded them of was Dale’s only “condition” for his 3 million gift – “Pay it forward.” Financially or otherwise, Dale wished that “his kids” will follow his example and help others too.


“You can remember him and you can emulate him,” Nielsen said.

You can see footage from the reunion and a summary of Dale’s story in this video by KCCI.

Iowan’s wish puts 33 strangers through college