National News

Frugal Carpenter Leaves $3 Million for Scholarships

Shortly before his death, Iowa carpenter Dale Schroeder left money that has paid for 33 strangers to attend college. (Photo: CNN)

The Tablet Staff

Dale Schroeder came. He sawed. He donated, leaving behind a small fortune at the time of his death in 2005 for strangers he knew he would never meet.

According to a CNN report, Schroeder, an Iowa man who worked as a carpenter for 67 years, left behind $3 million, which he directed to be used for college scholarships for Iowans.

To close friends, Schroeder was a “blue collar, lunch pail kind of guy,” CNN reported, saying he owned only two pairs of pants. He wore one to work, and the other to church.

“He said, ‘I never got the opportunity to go to college, and so I’d like to help kids go to college,’” Steve Nielson, a friend of Schroeder’s, told CNN.

Accepting the money came with one request — Schroeder asked the recipients to do what he did for them: help another in need.

“You can’t pay it back, because Dale’s gone,” Nielson said. “But you can remember him, and you can emulate him.”

Schroeder’s money has funded scholarships for 33 students.

Kira Conrad was the last of the recipients. She wanted to be a therapist, but thought she couldn’t afford college.

“I grew up in a single parent household, and I had three older sisters,” Conrad said to KCCI, a CNN affiliate in Des Moines, Iowa. “So paying for all four of us was never an option.”

But thanks to the money Schroeder left behind, she received the financial assistance she needed.

“For a man that never met me, to give me basically a full ride to college, that’s incredible,”  Conrad said. “That doesn’t happen.”

Schroeder was single and had no children, but in a way he does. On July 13, the 33 Iowans whom he put through college gathered around his old lunch box. They are known as “Dale’s Kids.”