Wilson Roosevelt Jerman, former White House butler who served through 11 presidencies, dies of COVID-19


Wilson Roosevelt Jerman, who served as a White House butler for more than five decades, has died of COVID-19 at the age of 91, local media report.

Granddaughter Jamila Garrett said in an interview with FOX 5 DC that that Jerman first began working at the White House as a cleaner under the Eisenhower administration in 1957.

She said it wasn’t until former President John F. Kennedy came into office in the 1960s that her grandfather was promoted to butler after building a rapport with the first couple.

“Jackie O actually promoted him to a butler because of the relationship. She was instrumental in ensuring that that happened,” Garrett said.


In her interview with the news station, Garrett took the chance to thank former first lady Michelle Obama, whose husband was the last president under whom Jerman served, for including a photo of her grandfather in her recent memoir “Becoming.”

“I want to say thank you so much, so much to Michelle Obama for including him in her book,” she said. “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.”

Garrett described Jerman as a “family-loving, genuine man” and said “he was always about service, service to others, and it didn’t matter who you were or what you did or what you needed, whatever that he could provide you with.”

Garrett said she wants the world to remember her grandfather as a man who was “really authentic.”

“That is what he taught our family, that’s what drives throughout our family and that’s what we will continue throughout his legacy,” she said.

Former President George W. Bush and former first lady Laura Bush told NBC News on Wednesday that Wilson “was a lovely man.”

“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,” the former first couple said.

—Updated Thursday at 11:36 a.m.

Tags Coronavirus Michelle Obama White House staff Wilson Roosevelt Jerman

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