“On the Road” set out this week to find someone who exemplifies the spirit of the American worker — and wound up at Tennova Healthcare in Cleveland, Tennessee, where 85-year-old Doris Caldwell has spent decades working her dream job. 

Caldwell isn’t working the most glamorous job in the hospital. Her work is also among the most physically demanding. Still, after 50 years, she’s not slowing down: Cleaning rooms has always been her dream job. 

Since she walked past this hospital in the 1960s, Caldwell has wanted to work there. She used to tell herself “I’m going to work there someday,” whether it was as a doctor or a dishwasher. She just wanted to play a part in making people feel better. 

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Doris Caldwell at work.

On the Road


“I was just dreaming of helping people, (being) with people, and my dream is still going on,” Caldwell said. 

Her attitude continues to inspire others. Tennova Healthcare CEO Jarrett Millsaps said Caldwell has an “aura … you want to be around,” while a doctor said he had “never heard her have a single complaint.” A maintenance man described her as someone who “just likes to work,” and a nurse said that she was certain Caldwell would never leave her job at the hospital. 

“I asked her one time when she was going to retire, and she said ‘No,'” the nurse recalled. “Just ‘No!'” 

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Doris Caldwell in her earlier days at the hospital.

On the Road


Caldwell said she worries she “would just dry up and fly away” if she stepped away from her job. Her vow to stay on is reassuring to everyone at Tennova, except one nurse — who happens to be her daughter. 

Sharon Caldwell has worked at the hospital for 44 years. She’s blessed to be working alongside her mother, she said, but it keeps her from retiring. 

“I don’t think I can retire and her still working,” said Sharon Caldwell. “She’s just an amazing lady.” 


To contact On the Road, or to send us a story idea, email us: OnTheRoad@cbsnews.com.