Dale Schroeder didn’t go to college, didn’t get married or have children, and he didn’t even own more than two pairs of jeans—but what the Iowa native did do, at the end of his life, was incredible.

Born 100 years ago, Schroeder’s life reads like a promo for the skilled trades. He became a carpenter, worked 67 years at the same business in DesMoines, and put some of his money away while living frugally. He was quiet and shy, not often going against the grain.

During his retirement, Schroeder decided he wanted to use the tidy sum he stashed in the bank to help his community, so he consulted attorney Steve Nielsen on how he could make it happen.

“Finally, I kind of was curious,” said the lawyer. “I asked him, ‘How much are we talking about, Dale?’ And he said, ‘Oh, just shy of three million dollars’ and I nearly fell out of my chair,” Nielsen told KCCI News.

Schroeder grew up poor and didn’t have the chance to go to college, so he wanted to give “free rides” to Iowa kids whose grades qualified them, but who couldn’t meet the steep financial requirements.

“He wanted to help kids that were like him, who wouldn’t probably have an opportunity to go to college, but for this gift.”

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Since Schroeder’s death in 2005, his scholarships have funded 33 people and their dreams for college—and recently, those people came together to remember him and the selfless way he reframed their lives.

His old lunch box sat on the table, as if to represent him, while the scholarship recipients shared stories of where they are now and what they’ve accomplished. And although Dale never had children, those 33 strangers now fondly refer to themselves as “Dale’s kids,” and that hits the nail right on the head.

We think Dale would be extremely proud.

(WATCH the video from KCCI-TV below) – Family photo via KCCI video

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