The students at Coulter Grove Intermediate School were always wary of Maury Forrester, the custodian hired for this school year. He never really talked to anyone and always kept to himself. But if they knew Forrester before 2014, they would have been astonished over his large number of accolades.
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In 2014, Forrester suffered what doctors could only say closely resembled a stroke. Since then, he suffers from a major loss of cognitive function. Earlier on in his life, Forrester was a highly-trained electromechanical designer that helped put men on the moon, according to CBS News.
“I look at it now, I’m amazed that it happened,” the 77-year-old said. “It was so complex and so involved, there were so many people.” He worked the Saturn and Apollo programs. He and his team were tasked to designed crucial launch components for the rockets.
But that was another life long ago. Since his stroke, Forrester has decided to stay busy by working odd jobs. He said he decided to work solely based on the fact that he wanted the exercise and didn’t want to dwell on his past endeavors.
His most recent job as a janitor at Coulter Grove Intermediate School in Tennesse has changed his life the most. “They’re happy to see me and I’m happy to see them,” Forrester said. “I’ve gotten to care very much for them.”
It wasn’t always like this though. Alexis Nunley, a student at the school, said his keeping to himself rose some eyebrows. “You never know what people have done,” Nunley said. “I was surprised.”
Since the students have learned about his past, Forrester says he has been accepted with open arms. Some students even tell him “I love you.” It’s those three words that make his day. “Just hearing that makes all the difference to me,” he said.
Forrester may have given up his career and accolades for an illness. But he wouldn’t trade where he is right now for anything. “I can’t say that I would give this up.”