Wilson Roosevelt Jerman, who worked at the White House for five decades under 11 U.S. presidents, has died after contracting the novel coronavirus, several media outlets reported. He was 91.
Jerman, who died Saturday, worked as a cleaner, doorman and butler between 1957 and 2012, and served under every chief executive from Dwight Eisenhower to Barack Obama.
"He was authentic," his granddaughter, Shanta Taylor Gay, told CNN. "He was a quiet but stern man. Very giving, never fussed or complained. Always said he lived a blessed life."
Former first ladies Hillary Clinton and Michele Obama, George W. and Laura Bush and their daughter, Jenna Bush Hager, all paid tribute in statements, tweets or on camera.
"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."
Jerman began his time as a cleaner but was promoted to butler during John F. Kennedy's term at the behest of first lady Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, according to another granddaughter, Jamila Garrett.
"Jackie O actually promoted him to a butler because of the relationship," Garrett said.
Jerman retired in 1997 but returned to work at the White House in 2003. He retired again in 2012 as maitre d' under then-President Barack Obama.
Jenna Bush, the co-host of NBC's "Today with Hoda & Jenna," honored Jerman at the beginning of Thursday's show and relayed a statement from her parents, who called him "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.
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