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

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: 110592

Reported Deaths: 3171
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Hinds7731171
DeSoto655177
Harrison478481
Jackson429178
Rankin380086
Madison371092
Lee339279
Forrest292777
Jones281682
Washington250697
Lafayette241342
Lauderdale2329130
Lamar212038
Bolivar197775
Oktibbeha194154
Neshoba1795111
Lowndes173662
Panola164736
Leflore158786
Sunflower156749
Warren151854
Monroe143672
Pontotoc143019
Pike135555
Lincoln133954
Copiah133336
Marshall130026
Coahoma122836
Scott122729
Grenada119637
Simpson117648
Yazoo116933
Union113825
Holmes113060
Tate112339
Leake111839
Itawamba108724
Pearl River107456
Adams104042
Prentiss100919
Wayne97921
Alcorn94412
George93217
Marion92642
Covington90825
Tippah84820
Newton84227
Chickasaw81724
Tallahatchie81725
Winston81421
Tishomingo78640
Hancock76527
Attala76325
Clarke70948
Clay66621
Jasper66016
Walthall63427
Calhoun60912
Noxubee59516
Smith57716
Claiborne53016
Montgomery52723
Tunica51817
Lawrence48914
Yalobusha47914
Perry47522
Carroll45812
Greene44717
Stone44614
Amite41513
Quitman4096
Humphreys39916
Jefferson Davis39311
Webster36313
Wilkinson32920
Kemper31615
Benton3004
Sharkey27714
Jefferson26210
Franklin2283
Choctaw2036
Issaquena1063
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Confirmed Cases: 152272

Reported Deaths: 2621
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Jefferson22300372
Mobile14273314
Tuscaloosa9886132
Montgomery9615196
Madison895192
Shelby700260
Lee643066
Baldwin636967
Marshall425348
Calhoun408459
Etowah399149
Morgan393232
Houston362332
DeKalb313326
Elmore308152
St. Clair276742
Limestone268327
Walker264192
Talladega253634
Cullman223923
Lauderdale204340
Autauga198928
Franklin198131
Jackson197914
Russell18993
Colbert188927
Dallas184527
Blount182723
Chilton178731
Escambia170328
Covington164429
Coffee16299
Dale161551
Pike130112
Tallapoosa126986
Chambers126643
Clarke126116
Marion103929
Butler99640
Barbour9819
Marengo96421
Winston88613
Geneva8297
Pickens79317
Randolph79314
Lawrence78830
Bibb78513
Hale73729
Cherokee71414
Clay70312
Lowndes69827
Bullock63417
Henry6286
Monroe6259
Washington62012
Crenshaw58830
Perry5796
Conecuh55413
Wilcox55412
Fayette54012
Macon52819
Cleburne5207
Sumter46421
Lamar4555
Choctaw38612
Greene33316
Coosa1963
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