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Modest Carpenter Leaves $3M Fortune That Sends 33 Students to College

07-22-2019
Image credit: Dale Schroeder (Youtube screenshot)

An Iowa carpenter is responsible for sending 33 students to college, even though he never met them.

Dale Schroeder was a modest man who never married and worked as a carpenter for 67 years.

Before he passed away in 2005, Schroeder met with attorney Steve Nielsen to discuss how to use his life savings.

KPTV News in Oregon reports Nielsen was shocked during his discussion with Dale after hearing how much was saved.

"I said, 'How much are we talking about Dale?' He said, 'Oh just shy of $3 million.' And I nearly fell out of my chair," the attorney recalled.

Schroeder requested that his fortune be used to set up a scholarship program to help less fortunate kids in Iowa go to college.

His generosity allowed Jenna Herr to attend college while raising her young daughter – an undertaking that seemed impossible.

"I had all of this external pressure and stress on me that already affected how I went to school everyday and the work that I did, so to have the additional stress of financing my education, maybe would have been too much," Herr told KTVU.

Many of the students applying for Schroeder's scholarship could not afford to even bring themselves to their interviews. 

The committee running the scholarship would send those applicants gas money. Some, including Herr, traveled over 90 miles to central Iowa.

Recipients were given a full ride to a 4-year college education covering tuition, books, fees, room and board.

Over the past 14 years, Schroeder's generosity has changed the lives of 33 college graduates in Iowa. They will begin their careers with no debt, but under one condition.

"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.

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