Former White House butler dies with coronavirus

Former White House butler dies with coronavirus
Wilson Roosevelt Jerman with Michelle and Barack Obama. Source: Samantha Appleton
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Daily US Times: A former White House butler has died with coronavirus aged 91. He worked for 11 presidents in a career that spanned five decades.

Jackie Kennedy first noticed Wilson Roosevelt Jerman while he was working as a cleaner in the White House. The then First Lady promoted him and from then on he worked as a butler.

Decades later Mr Jerman was commemorated by another First Lady, Michelle Obama, appearing in a photo in her memoir Becoming.

Mrs Obama paid tribute after his death saying her family were “lucky to have known him”.

She said in a statement: “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,” she added.

He died with coronavirus last weekend.

Wilson Roosevelt Jerman began working at the White House in 1957. Courtesy of family

Mr Jerman’s family members say he stood out not just to the Kennedys (1961-63) and the Obamas (2009-2017), but others he met in his roles.

His career began in 1957 during the Eisenhower administration and in his last position, he served as a maître d’ in the Obama White House.

Mr Jerman’s granddaughter Shanta Taylor Gay said he left his position in 2012, and President Obama honoured him with a series of plaques, one that represented each of the presidents he had served.

For those who study the history of African Americans and their role in political life, he remains an important figure.

Ohio State University’s Koritha Mitchell, author of From Slave Cabins to the White House, said: Like other African-American men of his generation, he showed dignity while serving in one of the few positions that were available to him at the time.”

She said he must have found it satisfying to end his career in the way that he did.

She added that he was working for President Barack Obama, “a dignified president who was also African American”.

“That must have felt like a victory.”

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