Tributes & Vigils Category: Coronavirus Vigils
Wilson Roosevelt Jerman, one of the longest-serving White House employees, died last week fromhis granddaughter told Washington, D.C. station WTTG in an interview Tuesday. Jerman was 91.
He had a presidential name and spent time with many of them — 11 presidents, to be exact. Jerman started working at the White House as a cleaner in 1957, rising to doorman and butler before retiring in 2012, his granddaughter, Jamila Garrett, told the station.
Jerman worked for every president from Eisenhower to Obama. An iconic photo shows him in the elevator with Mr. and Mrs. Obama as they rode to the family quarters of the White House at the end of the day.
“My grandfather was a family-loving, genuine man,” Garrett told WTTG reporter Shawn Yancy. “He was always about service. Service to others. It didn’t matter who you were or what you did or what you needed, whatever he could provide he did.”
He made a deep impression on some of America’s greatest leaders and their families. “Jackie O. actually promoted him to a butler because of the relationship. She was instrumental in ensuring that that happened,” Garrett said.
She also recounted warm memories of the Bush family. After the elder President Bush took office, Garrett said, “George Bush Jr. has a little trouble adapting to a new environment, some trouble sleeping. Well, my grandfather would actually sit with him in his bedroom until he fell asleep.”
Garrett called her grandfather “authentic.”
“He always taught us that there will always be obstacles in your life. Always. They won’t disappear. It doesn’t matter your status, it does not matter your role or what you do, there will always be obstacles. But you keep pushing forward,” she said.
Tributes poured in Thursday from former presidents and first ladies who remembered Jerman fondly.