A poor Midwestern carpenter who worked hard day and night for 67 years lived below his means. He had just two pairs of pants and spent little to nothing from his earnings. But before his death, he revealed a jaw-dropping $3 million secret fortune that he wanted to give away for an important mission.
Heroes are not born. They are made out of circumstances, and some are genuinely selfless people that leave an impact on history. Such is the story of Dale Schroeder—a shy and humble Iowan carpenter. He had no close family members even to mourn his death. However, his one thoughtful deed brought 33 different strangers to honor his obituary in 2019, 14 years after he died.
Schroeder lived a simple life like a lot of Iowans. He owned just two pairs of jeans: one for work and one for church, and nothing much to spare or share. Those close to him only recognized him as a poor frugal carpenter who pinched his pennies. But until he died in 2005, nobody guessed how rich Schroeder really was.
Dale Schroeder's memorial | Source: YouTube / KCCI
PINCHING THE PENNIES
Dale Schroeder was born in 1919. His friends called him a "quiet and shy" man. For 67 years, he had worked in the same company in Des Moines. Hard work got the best of Schroeder, but he loved what he did. He lived most of his life thriftily and cared less about his desires. He was poor and had no family.
She had practically given up, and that's when her phone rang...She couldn't believe her ears and immediately burst into tears.
Schroeder devoted all his time to work and religious activities. Unlike those who enjoyed their earnings, he never even bought a new pair of pants. Instead, all he had were only two pairs of jeans. Didn't he have enough money to buy nice clothes? What was he doing with his earnings? The surprising answers came in 2005, just before his death.
Moehl Millwork, Inc., the company where Dale Schroeder worked for 67 years. | Source: YouTube / KCCI
NOT LIVING THE LIFE OF HIS DREAMS
For over six decades, Schroeder busted his chops to save a massive chunk of money. Although he could have lived the life of his dreams with this money, he didn't. Instead, he had some other plans in his mind. Before his death, Schroeder met his friend and lawyer, Steve Nielson, with a plan for his secret fortune. Nielson recounted:
"He said, 'I never got the opportunity to go to college. So, I'd like to help kids go to college."
Deep inside, Nielson surmised that Schroeder just had a small percentage of savings that he was willing to part with. Curious and astonished, he asked Schroeder how much precisely he had saved to be given away as a scholarship. But then came the jaw-dropping revelation.
Steve Nielson, Dale's attorney & friend. | Source: YouTube / KCCI
JUST SHY OF $3 MILLION
All Schroeder said to astonish his buddy was, "Oh, just shy of $3 million!" Nielson was startled by Schroeder's secret fortune of 67 years. "I nearly fell out of my chair," he recounted.
Before his passing, Schroeder had decided to set up a scholarship to help poor students who couldn't afford college. He mainly focused on those with good grades and the desire to propel their education further.
Eventually, Schroeder wanted his fortune to be parted between young Iowan adults who otherwise would have abandoned their studies if it weren't for his help. Kira Conrad was among the 33 random strangers to receive a piece from his secret fortune, and it felt like a dream-come-true experience for her.
Kira Conrad | Source: YouTube / KCCI
DREAMS ARE NOTHING WITHOUT MONEY
Conrad was a bright student, and she had bigger dreams in life. She wanted to become a therapist, but her family's financial crisis got in the way of her endeavors. Without money, her dreams came to a colossal standstill, and she thought it was the end of her aspirations.
Her parents could not afford to send her to college. Opting for a student loan was out of the question, and Conrad knew it would be too difficult to repay even if they took a loan.
"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," she recalled.
Kira Conrad and a photo frame showing a young Dale Schroeder | Source: YouTube / KCCI
THAT LIFE-CHANGING PHONE CALL
Conrad's dreams slowly started to crumble. After her high school graduation party, she had almost decided that college was not meant for her. She had practically given up, and that's when her phone rang.
Her fate took a different turn when Nielson, on the other end, disclosed his dear friend Schroeder's directive. He also explained that the specific future of Schroeder's fortune was to send small-town Iowan kids to college. She couldn't believe her ears and immediately burst into tears. Conrad said:
"For a man that would never meet me…to give me, basically, a full ride to college… That's incredible. That doesn't happen."
DALE SCHROEDER'S 33 KIDS
Eventually, Schroeder's fund was used to pay for 33 kids' college tuition. The youngsters graduated college debt-free and pursued their dreams through scholarships. Surprisingly, a few became some of the most prominent educational and medical figures.
In 2019, 14 years after his passing, all of Schroeder's secret fortune ran out. During this time, his kind deed touched the hearts of the 33 young strangers who used his help to unlock their full potential.
In July 2019, the group dubbed "Dale's kids" united to honor the stranger who helped them shape their lives and achieve their dreams. Besides being doctors, therapists, and teachers, the 33 people in the cohort became close friends and the only few to show up at Schroeder's remembrance.
AN INSPIRATION FOR MANKIND
Schroeder never had a specific condition or preference for where his money went, but he did have one thing in mind that he asked for in return before he died. Nielson recounted:
“All he asked was that you pay it forward. You can’t pay it back ’cause Dale’s gone. But you can remember him, and you can emulate him.”
Dale Schroeder's kindness inspired so many people and immortalized the true sense of humanity on the sands of time. His "kids" would be forever thankful for his help and the impact he had made in their lives. You can learn more about Schroeder's story in the video below.
How would you react if you get unexpected help from someone you barely know? If you want to give back to someone who helped you, in what ways would you do it? And what do you feel about Dale Schroeder's generosity?
Click here to read about how a poor woman struggling to feed her kids receives $200K from a stranger on Mother's Day.