Wilson Roosevelt Jerman’s family announced his death after contracting coronavirus at the age of 91 last Saturday.
Jerman was one of the longest-serving White House employees in history, having begun his tenure as a cleaner in 1957. Jerman worked with every president from Eisenhower to Obama. By the time he retired at age 83 in 2012, he had ascended to the position of White House butler. His granddaughter, Jamila Garrett, remembered him in an interview on Washington, DC, station WTTG.
“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.”
Jerman was known to go well beyond the call of duty during his 55 years in the White House. “George Bush Jr. has a little trouble adapting to a new environment, some trouble sleeping,” she recalled. “Well, my grandfather would actually sit with him in his bedroom until he fell asleep.”
Garrett also thanked former First Lady Michelle Obama for including her grandfather in her book. “You know, just considering that we aren’t able to grieve normally, physically together, that 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,” she said.
“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.