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White House butler for 11 presidents dies at 91 after contracting COVID-19


Tributes from former first families rolled in Thursday in response to the news that a man who was a fixture in the White House under 11 presidents had died at the age of 91 after contracting COVID-19.

Wilson Jerman started working as a cleaner under President Dwight Eisenhower and retired as an elevator operator during the presidency of Barack Obama.

“With his kindness and care, Wilson Jerman helped make the White House a home for decades of First Families, including ours,” said former first lady Michelle Obama. “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."

Jerman became a White House butler under President John Kennedy, a role that Mrs. Kennedy was instrumental in landing for him, his oldest granddaughter, Jamila Garrett, told the local Fox News station in Washington.

“Jerman served as a White House butler across 11 presidencies and made generations of first families feel at home, including ours,” tweeted Hillary Clinton. “Our warmest condolences to his loved ones.”

Former President George W. Bush and first lady Laura Bush said Jerman 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 Bushes said in a statement to NBC News.

Desiree Barnes, who worked in the Obama administration, said Jerman treated the staff kindly. She recalled that when she worked as an intern he would get her a meal if she had not eaten and that he even called her during a particularly rough snowstorm to make sure she was okay.

“It did not matter political party, he was there to serve,” Barnes said. “He had been there on some of the hardest days for a lot of presidents. ... Imagine being there when President Kennedy was assassinated and having to receive the first lady at the time. So, he was a really empathetic man. He just was a great listener.”

Associated Press writer Darlene Superville contributed to this report.

© Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without permission.

©2020 GPlusMedia Inc.

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I wonder which presidents he liked and disliked the most.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

A human library; a wealth of knowledge; and an inside perspective of history...RIP

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Clearly an amazing life. Service to others is what many people choose for their honorable careers.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

CrazyJoeToday 11:01 am JSTA human library; a wealth of knowledge; and an inside perspective of history...RIP

A human encyclopedia. I wish he wrote a book about all the history he witnessed - from the inside. RIP DUDE

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Who in the WH doesn't wear a mask?

0 ( +1 / -1 )

What an amazing life.

Sounds like one of the few White House people that could be trusted.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

It sounds like he was a great man.

Hope he died peacefully.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

He was the fly on the wall.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

He was the fly on the wall.

He easily could have monetized his inside position but was a true public servant who understood his role. He must have enjoyed his job immensely and the people he served all seem to be immensely grateful for his service.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

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