He first joined the White House in 1957 as a cleaner, but worked up the ranks to resign as a maître d' under then-President Barack Obama.
The ongoing pandemic is taking away from the world some of the most important and influential people in our lives. Wilson Roosevelt Jerman, a former White House butler, worked under 11 different Presidents during his career. At 91 years old, he sadly passed away on May 16 due to Coronavirus. His granddaughter Shanta Taylor Gay confirmed his passing in an interview, CNN reports. While his family is in mourning, several former Presidents and their families have come forward to offer their condolences and messages of support. He was responsible for making the White House feel like home for many Presidential families.
A man who witnessed so much history succumbs to this terrible virus. He was a valued aide to Presidents for generations https://t.co/W14VQoFmVM— Andrea Mitchell (@mitchellreports) May 20, 2020
"He was authentic. He was a quiet but stern man," granddaughter Gay said. "Very giving, never fussed or complained. Always said he lived a blessed life." In light of her grandfather's day, she said the Gay family was "taking it day by day." However, it's not just his family who was deeply saddened by his death. Numerous former Presidential families were also in mourning. Former first fady Michelle Obama said in a statement that she was lucky to have known him and his generous spirit. She affirmed, "With his kindness and care, Wilson Jerman helped make the White House a home for decades of First Families, including ours. His service to others - his willingness to go above and beyond for the country he loved and all those whose lives he touched - is a legacy worthy of his generous spirit. We were lucky to have known him. Barack and I send our sincerest love and prayers to his family."
Remembering Wilson Roosevelt Jerman, who started at the White House in 1957 and worked for every president from Eisenhower to Obama. pic.twitter.com/dg2IppZLy9— NBC Nightly News with Lester Holt (@NBCNightlyNews) May 22, 2020
Former first lady Hillary Clinton too made a statement. Taking to Twitter, she claimed that both she and husband Bill Clinton were disheartened by his passing. "Jerman served as a White House butler across 11 Presidencies and made generations of first families feel at home, including ours," she wrote. "Our warmest condolences to his loved ones." Jenna Bush Hager, the daughter of former President George W. Bush and former first lady Laura Bush, paid tribute to him on NBC's Today with Hoda and Jenna, where she is a host. She said, "The reason why it felt like home was because of people like him. We loved him and he was beloved by my family, and he will be so missed." She also shared a statement from her parents: "He was the first person we saw the morning when we left the residence and each night when we returned."
Filming The Butler I learned about the quiet dignity of the White House’s staff, who serve but are not servile.We mourn the loss of Wilson Roosevelt Jerman, who died from coronavirus after serving 11 presidents.May his memory be a tribute to all of the essential workers worldwide https://t.co/E3eOZYIJIC— Forest Whitaker (@ForestWhitaker) May 22, 2020
Jerman joined the White House as a cleaner in 1957 under then-President Dwight D. Eisenhower. When John F. Kennedy entered the White House, he was promoted to the position of butler. The move, his other granddaughter Jamila Garrett shared, was completely orchestrated by former first lady Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis. She explained, "Jackie O actually promoted him to a butler because of the relationship. She was instrumental in ensuring that that happened." Though Jerman originally retired in 1997, he returned to the White House in 2003 and only left in 2012, resigning as a maître d' under then-President Barack Obama.
In 2011, the diligent employee had suffered stroke during which time the Obamas made sure to take care of him. According to Gay, the even sent him flowers while he was in the hospital. At the end of his long and memorable career, Obama honored Jerman for over 50 years of service with a plaque and a coin to represent each President he served. If you happen to have a copy of Michelle Obama's bestselling memoir Becoming, you would have seen a photo of the Presidential couple standing beside Jerman in an elevator. Without a doubt, every First Family he served will forever remember his dedication and kind spirit.
“The reason why (the White House) felt like home was because of people like him.” @jennabushhager remembers Wilson Roosevelt Jerman – a former White House butler who served 11 presidents and passed away after contracting the coronavirus. pic.twitter.com/kcX7GrmQj0— TODAY with Hoda & Jenna (@HodaAndJenna) May 21, 2020