Iowa man uses secret fortune to send 33 strangers to college

Iowa man uses secret fortune to send 33 strangers to college

A kind-hearted man used his secret fortune to send 33 "small-town Iowa kids" to college, CBS News reports.

Dale Schroeder was known by those in his community to be a humble man who appeared content with leading a minimalistic life. The Iowa native was a carpenter by profession and worked at the same company for 67 years.

Find out more about the man who funded the tuition fees of 33 strangers:

Having grown up poor - without a wife or children later on in life - no one would have imagined that when he died back in 2005, he'd have any riches to pass on.

His friend Steve Nielsen described Schroeder as a "blue collar, lunch pail kind of guy. Went to work every day. Worked really hard. Was frugal. Like a lot of Iowans," Nielsen told CBS Des Moines affiliate KCCI-TV. "He had church jeans and work jeans," Nielsen added.

Schroeder had saved up a large sum of money over the years and because he had no family members to pass it on to, he decided to present a lawyer with his philanthropic plan.

Iowa man Credit: KCCI

"He said, 'I never got the opportunity to go to college. So, I'd like to help kids go to college,'" Nielsen said.

"Finally, I was curious and I said, 'How much are we talking about, Dale?' And he said, 'Oh, just shy of $3 million.' I nearly fell out of my chair," Nielsen recalled.

CBS reports that one of the kids who benefitted from the late Schroeder's kindness was Kira Conard, an aspiring therapist. Whilst she was a hard-working, academic student, she couldn't afford to go to college.

"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 said. "[It] almost made me feel powerless. Like, I want to do this. I have this goal, but I can't get there just because of the financial part."

Iowa man Credit: KCCI

That's when she received one of the most meaningful phone calls of her life. "I broke down into tears immediately," Conard said. The man on the phone told her about Schroeder.

"He wanted to help kids that were like him, that probably would have an opportunity to go to college but for his gift," Nielsen explained.

Iowa man Credit: KCCI

Ultimately, Schroeder covered the cost of 33 strangers' tuition fees. These 33 college graduates have since dubbed themselves "Dale's kids," and met up earlier this month to pay their respects to the man who so selflessly gave them a chance to pursue their dreams.

According to Nielsen, there was only one condition: "All we ask is that you pay it forward," he said. "You can't pay it back, because Dale is gone, but you can remember him and you can emulate him."