CHARLESTON -- One custodian in Central Illinois has done more than is required his entire career. The pay off was more than he ever expected. It's made him an Angel Among Us.
Working the nightshift as a school janitor can be lonely. You come in while the kids go out but while Larry Miller may clock in at three, that’s not when he starts. He comes in an hour or two before he’s supposed to report just to talk to the kids.
"My wife and I didn’t have kids and I like kids so being a janitor is just a natural thing for me," said Miller.
Principal Kristen Holly sees it every day.
"He loves being around students. That’s what he lives for. That’s why he does this job."
He’s been doing it for 27 years at Carl Sandberg Elementary School in Charleston. He doesn't think it's any big deal. 8 year-old Oliver Rednour doesn’t see it that way. Rednour's teacher Laura Decker remembers one day in particular.
"I was cleaning up the classroom after school and I looked over and I'm like what did Oliver leave on his desk? I went over a looked and thought this is the cutest thing ever."
Oliver had left Miller a note. He says it was important to thank him for cleaning up their messes. He also says he's very nice. Miller read the note and wrote back.
"The next time I came into the room, there were three or four."
Miller wrote to back to every single student. Decker wasn't surprised.
"I knew he would because that’s just the kind of person he is. He’s the kind of person everyone strives to be."
Miller wanted to retire for awhile but the kids kept him there. Life outside a school building was tugging at the 69 year old and it was time to put away the vacuum. The school couldn’t let him leave without showing him just how much they want him to stay. They threw him a surprise assembly. They had cards to share, gratitude to give, and many tears to shed. Miller was a constant at their school who will be missed, even if they only saw him for a few minutes every day.
First grader Lainie Fritts said, "I’m going to miss him a lot because I don’t want him to go."
That’s how you know doing more than is required made a difference. When the goodbye is harder than the job itself.
"They love him. They’ve always loved Mr. Miller."