Tributes from former first families poured in for a former White House butler who served 11 presidencies and succumbed to COVID-19 at the age of 91. Wilson Roosevelt Jerman, one of the longest-serving employees of the White House, served US Presidents from Dwight D. Eisenhower to Barack Obama.
Former first lady Michelle Obama said in a statement that Jerman helped make the White House a home for decades of first families. She added that his willingness to go above and beyond for the nation and all the lives he touched is a legacy worthy of his generous spirit.
Former Secretary of State and first lady Hillary Clinton took to Twitter to express anguish over the death of Jerman saying the former White House butler made generations of first families feel at home.
“Bill and I were saddened to hear of the passing of Wilson Roosevelt Jerman at the age of 91 from COVID-19...Our warmest condolences to his loved ones” wrote Clinton.
In a statement to NBC News, George W Bush and first lady Laura Bush said that Jerman was the first person they saw in the morning when they left the residence and the last person they saw each night when returned.
Jerman got his first job in the White House in 1957 when he started as a cleaner. He was promoted to butler while President John F. Kennedy (1917 – 1963) was in office. President Kennedy's wife and then First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis promoted him. He went on to serve as a butler for nine more presidents, forming particularly close relationships with President George H.W. Bush (1924 – 2018) and his family, which continued when President George W. Bush followed in his father’s footsteps.
After working full-time in the White House since 1957, Jerman moved to part-time status in 2003, continuing there until his retirement in 2012. First Lady Michelle Obama included a photo of Jerman in her 2018 memoir, “Becoming.” Upon his retirement in 2012, former President Barack Obama honoured him with a series of plaques, one that represented each of the presidents he had served.