Man Who Served 11 Presidents Dies of COVID

Wilson Roosevelt Jerman, 91, a butler, worked for Eisenhower through Obama
By Bob Cronin,  Newser Staff
Posted May 21, 2020 4:33 PM CDT

(Newser) – Wilson Roosevelt Jerman, who joined the White House staff in 1957 and served under 11 presidents, has died at 91. His family said the cause of death was COVID-19, CBS News reports. Dwight Eisenhower was president when Jerman was hired, and Barack Obama was president when he left in 2012. The people who lived in the White House during his tenure paid tribute Thursday. Jerman "made generations of first families feel at home, including ours," former first lady Hillary Clinton wrote. "He was a lovely man," former President George W. Bush and his wife, Laura, said in a statement, per NBC. "He was the first person we saw in the morning when we left the residence and the last person we saw each night when we returned.”

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Jerman began as a cleaner and was made a butler during the Kennedy administration, his granddaughter said. He developed relationships with the White House occupants, Jamila Garrett said. "Jackie O actually promoted him to a butler because of the relationship," she said, referring to first lady Jackie Kennedy. When Bush first moved in and had trouble sleeping, she said, "My grandfather would actually sit with him in his bedroom until he fell asleep." Jerman was all about service—no matter "who you were or what you did or what you needed," she said. And he was authentic, per the Hill. "That is what he taught our family, that's what drives throughout our family and that’s what we will continue throughout his legacy," Garrett said. (Read more White House staff stories.)

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