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: 69986

Reported Deaths: 2011
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Hinds5768121
DeSoto375331
Harrison265136
Madison248972
Jackson239145
Rankin232238
Jones194762
Forrest185857
Washington172244
Lee156342
Lauderdale143993
Neshoba130694
Lamar124115
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Warren113735
Oktibbeha113639
Lowndes110240
Panola109117
Sunflower107127
Lafayette101820
Scott101720
Copiah97128
Leflore95968
Pike95137
Holmes92349
Yazoo87013
Pontotoc8579
Grenada85626
Lincoln84643
Monroe83155
Simpson82131
Leake79927
Coahoma78913
Wayne78921
Tate74630
Marshall7299
Union70017
Marion68921
Adams64226
Covington63715
Winston63516
George6038
Pearl River56740
Newton55511
Tallahatchie54711
Attala53325
Walthall51121
Chickasaw48819
Noxubee46312
Tishomingo4449
Prentiss44110
Alcorn4395
Calhoun4269
Smith41213
Claiborne40914
Hancock40915
Jasper4089
Clay40414
Itawamba39510
Tippah38814
Tunica3657
Montgomery3456
Clarke34328
Lawrence3298
Yalobusha31810
Humphreys29912
Quitman2751
Carroll26211
Greene26213
Perry2488
Webster24813
Amite2406
Jefferson Davis2406
Kemper24014
Stone2245
Wilkinson22013
Sharkey2065
Jefferson1967
Benton1541
Choctaw1384
Franklin1352
Issaquena272
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Confirmed Cases: 101496

Reported Deaths: 1821
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Jefferson13463261
Mobile10671216
Montgomery6955153
Madison551035
Tuscaloosa432780
Unassigned398568
Baldwin371029
Shelby336137
Marshall319938
Lee272447
Morgan242520
Etowah219034
DeKalb185214
Calhoun182819
Elmore176739
Walker154865
Houston145013
Russell13912
Limestone137813
St. Clair137520
Dallas134725
Franklin130822
Cullman123812
Colbert122518
Lauderdale120320
Autauga118822
Escambia109417
Jackson10724
Talladega106914
Tallapoosa87679
Dale85029
Chambers84838
Chilton8279
Blount8255
Clarke82110
Coffee7796
Butler77336
Covington74621
Pike7167
Marion58726
Barbour5816
Lowndes57524
Marengo56817
Bullock49211
Hale48826
Winston45711
Bibb4535
Washington44913
Perry4464
Wilcox43610
Monroe4246
Pickens41110
Randolph40311
Conecuh39410
Sumter36618
Lawrence3563
Macon34114
Crenshaw3318
Choctaw28912
Cherokee2798
Clay2775
Geneva2652
Henry2643
Greene25311
Lamar2302
Fayette2235
Cleburne1291
Coosa1053
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