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Former White House butler, staffer for 11 presidents, dies of COVID-19

Former White House butler, staffer for 11 presidents, dies of COVID-19
Wilson Roosevelt Jerman served as a cleaner, doorman and butler in the White House under 11 presidents.  Photo by Tina Hager/George W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum/National Archives

May 21 (UPI) -- Wilson Roosevelt Jerman, a White House butler who served 11 presidents, has died from COVID-19 at age 91.

Jerman died last weekend from COVID-19, his eldest granddaughter, Jamila Garrett confirmed, FOX 5 DC first reported.

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He worked for 11 presidents ranging from Dwight D. Eisenhower to Barack Obama in 55 years at the White House. From 1957 to 2012, he worked as a cleaner, doorman and butler at the White House.

Jerman built relationships with former President John F. Kennedy and first lady Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis.

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"Jackie O actually promoted him to butler," Garrett said. "Because of the relationship she was instrumental in ensuring that happened."

His granddaughter, Shanta Taylor Gay, told CNN Thursday that Jerman died on Saturday.

"He was authentic," Gay told CNN. "He was a quiet but stern man. Very giving, never fussed or complained. Always said he lived a blessed life."

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Jerman left the White House in 2012 as maitre d' under Obama.

Gay told CNN that Jerman had a stroke in 2011 and Obama helped make sure he was taken care of in the hospital and sent him flowers. Obama also honored Jerman with a plaque and a coin to represent each president he served at the end of his career in the White House.

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Jerman and his wife lived in Washington, D.C.'s Petworth neighborhood and had five children, 12 grandchildren and 18 great-grandchildren, Fox 5 reported. His funeral will be held virtually because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

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Michelle Obama has a photo in her book, Becoming, of Jerman standing in an elevator with her and President Obama.

Since "we aren't able to grieve normally physically together" due to the coronavirus pandemic, "that [photo] is one way that we are able to still feel connected to his success and connected to so much that he promoted around authenticity and building relationships, and which equals building trust," Garrett told Fox 5.

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