Ex White House Butler Wilson Jerman Dies of COVID-19 at 91 – How He Served 11 Presidents

Odette Odendaal
May 22, 2020
08:59 A.M.
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The unique life Wilson Roosevelt Jerman lead as one of the longest-serving employees of the White House sadly came to an end after he passed away from the novel coronavirus.


Wilson wore several hats during his time working at the White House, which started with being a cleaner in 1957 until he stepped out as a butler in 2012.

91 at the time of his passing, Wilson served at the leisure of 11 presidents - from Eisenhower all the way through to Obama. His granddaughter confirmed to NBC that Wilson died after contracting COVID-19.


Saddened to hear of Wilson's passing, former presidential couple George W. and Laura Bush had nothing but kind words as they recalled working with the "lovely man," and told NBC News:

“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.”


Former presidential couple Bill and Hillary Clinton reached out with condolences to Wilson's family and friends. He had an impact on the lives of everyone who lived in the White House, as Hillary said:

"Jerman served as a White House butler across 11 presidencies and made generations of first families feel at home, including ours."


Although Wilson started working as a cleaner in the White House in 1957, his warm and friendly disposition and his meticulous nature saw to his promotion during Kennedy's presidency.

Wilson and Jackie Kennedy got along very well, and she trusted him with her children. According to his granddaughter Jamila Garrett, Jackie played an instrumental part in this promotion to the butler.


Lyndon Johnson's fondness for Wilson became evident when he made sure Wilson had everything he needed after his wife died, and he had five children to take care of by himself. Wilson got to know several generations of the Bush family as well, and his granddaughter said that he never complained about anyone he worked with or for.

On Thursday morning, Jenna Bush Hager paid tribute to Wilson during her show with Hoda Kobt. Reflecting on her childhood days in the White House, Jenna called him "the loveliest" man that always smiled. Saddened by his passing, Jenna said that she and her whole family loved Wilson, and will miss him.

Jenna Bush Hager on the "Today" show on Monday May 13, 2019. | Source: Getty Images.

Jenna Bush Hager recently also paid tribute to women in her life that had a hand in forming the person she became - her mom Laura, and her maternal grandmother Jenna Hawkins.

In celebration of Mother's Day recently, Jenna took to social media to pay tribute to the pair in a heartfelt post wherein she also thanked Laura for teaching her how to be a mom.


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