First Families Pay Tribute to Longtime White House Butler

Brenda Watkins
May 22, 2020

Wilson Roosevelt Jerman, who worked at the White House for five decades under 11 USA presidents, has died after contracting the novel coronavirus, several media outlets reported.

Jerman died last Saturday at Sentara Northern Virginia Medical Center in Woodbridge, Va. with Covid-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus which has infected 1,621,333 with 96,363 deaths.

The long-serving employee began working in the White House in 1957 under then-President Dwight D Eisenhower, and retired in 2012 during Barack Obama's presidential tenure.

George W Bush and first girl Laura Bush stated Jerman was a stunning man.

Paying tribute after his death, Mrs Obama said her family were "lucky to have known him".

"Jackie O actually promoted him to a butler because of the relationship", Garrett said.

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"He was authentic. He was a quiet but stern man. Always said he lived a blessed life", Shanta Taylor Gay, who's also Jerman's granddaughter told CNN on Thursday.

Ohio State University's Koritha Mitchell, author of From Slave Cabins to the White House, said that Mr Jerman was seen as an important figure in the history of African Americans in USA political life. "You know, just considering that we aren't able to grieve normally, physically together, that is one way that we are able to still feel connected to his success and connected to so much that he promoted around authenticity and building relationships". At the end of his career, Obama honored Jerman for his more than 50 years of service with a plaque and a coin to represent each President he served, Gay said.

"Bill and I were saddened to hear of the passing of Wilson Roosevelt Jerman at the age of 91 from COVID-19".

Jerman was one of the few White House staffers trusted to take the Kennedy children to different parts of the residence, she said.

During more than half a century in the White House, Mr Jerman witnessed many changes in United States race relations, culminating in Mr Obama becoming the first black president in 2008. "Our warmest condolences to his loved ones", she wrote. He would leave again in 2012 as maître d' under then-President Barack Obama, according to reports.

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