New janitor is 77-year-old man, students think nothing about it—until they find out what he did

May 10, 2018 3:07 pm Last Updated: May 10, 2018 3:07 pm

Most people don’t think too much about their janitors. It’s a good and steady job, but it might seem like one that anyone could do—you never imagine that there’s someone extraordinary mopping the floors.

But one janitor at a school in Knoxville, Tennessee is proving that assumption wrong. Little do most people know, he’s actually had a remarkable, historic career…

…It’s just that these days, he’d rather be doing this instead.

(CBS Evening News/Screenshot)

The janitor at Coulter Grove Intermediate School, 77-year-old Maury Forrester, has been on the job for a few months now.

He takes pride in his work, and is popular and well-liked by the students … though they have no idea the incredible work he’s done throughout his life.

Forrester was a major part of the space program that put a man on the moon.

You wouldn’t think so watching him sweep up the school floors, but for decades Forrester excelled as a highly-skilled electromechanical designer. 

His claim to fame: designing crucial launch components for NASA’s Saturn and Apollo programs.

“I look at it now, I’m amazed that it happened,” Forrester told CBS Evening News of the moon landing. “It was so complex and so involved, there were so many people.”

(CBS Evening News/Screenshot)

Despite an impressive career—and plenty of awards and honors to show for it—few people at the school realized just how special Forrester was.

“You never know what people have done,” said student Alexis Nunley.

So what brought such a talent to working as a janitor? Unfortunately, life circumstances prevented Forrester from continuing his work:

In 2014, he suffered what seemed a stroke.

The stroke—or something similar—caused a loss of cognitive function that forced his career to an end.

He knew he needed something to keep his mind and body occupied or else he would die, so he took the janitor position at the school.

(CBS Evening News/Screenshot)

It sounds like a tragic turn of events—but Forrester saw the silver lining and learned to love his new job, even if its a bit different than NASA.

The students’ affection is one thing that always keeps Forrester going. He said they greet him and even say “I love you.”

“They’re happy to see me and I’m happy to see them,” he told CBS. “I’ve gotten to care very much for them.”

(CBS Evening News/Screenshot)

Forrester has found an unlikely new beginning, one that’s just as rewarding as his old career.

Forrester now says he’d rather work as a janitor, even if he could go back to his old job.

“I can’t say that I would give this up.”