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Former White House butler who served 11 presidents dies after contracting coronavirus

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Wilson Roosevelt Jerman, a former White House butler who worked under 11 US Presidents, has died after contracting coronavirus. He was 91 years old.Hi...

Posted: May 21, 2020 12:20 PM
Updated: May 21, 2020 5:15 PM

Wilson Roosevelt Jerman, a former White House butler who worked under 11 US Presidents, has died after contracting coronavirus. He was 91 years old.

His granddaughter, Shanta Taylor Gay, told CNN on Thursday Jerman died on May 16.

'He was authentic. He was a quiet but stern man. Very giving, never fussed or complained. Always said he lived a blessed life,' she said in an interview.

Gay said the family is 'taking it day by day' in light of her grandfather's death.

FOX 5 DC was first to report Jerman's death.

The long-serving employee began working in the White House in 1957 under then-President Dwight D. Eisenhower as a cleaner. He was promoted to butler under former President John F. Kennedy, a move that was orchestrated by former first lady Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, granddaughter Jamila Garrett told FOX 5.

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

Gay said Jerman initially retired from the White House in 1997 but went back to the White House in 2003. He left the White House in 2012 as maître d' under then-President Barack Obama.

Gay told CNN that her grandfather suffered a stroke in 2011 and the Obamas assisted in making sure he was taken care of while in the hospital, even sending flowers. At the end of his career, Obama honored Jerman for his more than 50 years of service with a plaque and a coin to represent each President he served, Gay said.

A photo of Jerman standing in an elevator with Barack Obama and Michelle Obama was included in the former first lady's memoir, 'Becoming.'

Michelle Obama said in a statement to CNN on Thursday that the former first family was lucky to have known Jerman and that he had a generous spirit.

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

'When growing up, he never discussed politics,' Gay said. 'And never judged by the Republican or Democrat. It was all about the person independently and learning a person.'

Former first lady Hillary Clinton tweeted that she and former President Bill Clinton are saddened by his death.

'Jerman served as a White House butler across 11 presidencies and made generations of first families feel at home, including ours,' Clinton wrote on Thursday. 'Our warmest condolences to his loved ones.'

Jenna Bush Hager, daughter of former President George W. Bush and former first lady Laura Bush and host of NBC's 'Today with Hoda & Jenna,' paid tribute to Jerman on Thursday at the beginning of the show. She said he was one of the reasons the White House felt like home.

'The reason why it felt like home was because of people like him,' she said. 'We loved him and he was beloved by my family, and he will be so missed.'

She also shared a statement from her parents, who remembered Jerman as 'a lovely man.'

'He was the first person we saw the morning when we left the residence and each night when we returned,' the Bushes said.

This story has been updated with reaction from former presidential families.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 14790

Reported Deaths: 710
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Hinds95924
Lauderdale71358
Madison69422
Scott63010
Neshoba58937
Jones56622
Forrest52338
DeSoto5036
Leake40012
Rankin3856
Holmes38524
Jackson30313
Copiah2904
Attala28415
Newton2564
Monroe25225
Leflore25130
Lincoln25024
Harrison2477
Lamar2315
Yazoo2274
Pearl River20631
Pike20311
Adams19015
Lowndes1899
Noxubee1736
Washington1667
Warren1597
Bolivar15411
Wayne1540
Oktibbeha15411
Jasper1524
Smith14511
Covington1431
Clarke13818
Kemper13611
Chickasaw13012
Lafayette1274
Lee1245
Carroll11511
Coahoma1144
Marion1149
Clay1084
Winston1051
Lawrence1021
Simpson950
Hancock8711
Wilkinson859
Yalobusha855
Grenada853
Itawamba847
Montgomery811
Union805
Sunflower783
Jefferson Davis772
Marshall773
Tate741
Tippah7111
Claiborne692
Panola643
Calhoun634
Webster611
Humphreys587
Amite561
Tunica533
Walthall520
Perry503
Prentiss423
Jefferson400
Choctaw342
Stone300
Pontotoc293
Tishomingo280
Franklin282
Tallahatchie261
Quitman250
George211
Benton150
Alcorn141
Greene91
Sharkey70
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Confirmed Cases: 16823

Reported Deaths: 605
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Mobile2124112
Jefferson1712100
Montgomery154134
Tuscaloosa67813
Marshall6689
Lee53332
Franklin5147
Shelby48419
Tallapoosa41864
Butler39213
Chambers34924
Madison3184
Elmore3137
Walker2991
Baldwin2819
Etowah24411
Dallas2443
DeKalb2413
Morgan2311
Coffee2241
Lowndes22210
Sumter2136
Autauga2053
Houston1884
Bullock1833
Pike1790
Colbert1612
Russell1590
Marengo1556
Lauderdale1532
Calhoun1523
Hale1517
Choctaw1488
Wilcox1347
Barbour1321
Clarke1292
Randolph1257
Marion11911
St. Clair1161
Pickens1014
Talladega1003
Dale990
Chilton971
Cullman960
Greene924
Limestone870
Winston820
Covington771
Jackson752
Crenshaw722
Bibb711
Henry712
Macon712
Washington666
Blount581
Escambia493
Lawrence460
Geneva400
Conecuh351
Coosa351
Monroe352
Perry350
Cherokee342
Clay272
Lamar210
Fayette130
Cleburne131
Unassigned00
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