A former White House butler who serves 11 different presidents has died at the age of 91 after contracting the coronavirus, his granddaughter told Fox 5 DC.
Wilson Roosevelt German was one of the White House staffers who served for a long time, remembered with admiration by former President George W. Bush and former First Lady Laura Bush in a statement to NBC News on Wednesday.
“He was a wonderful man,” Bush said. “He was the first person we saw in the morning when we left the Residence, and the last person we saw every night when we returned.”
German’s granddaughter, Jamila Garrett, said in an interview with the WTTG that he began as a janitor in the Eisenhower administration in 1957 and was then promoted during the Kennedy presidency. Garrett said her grandfather maintained a relationship with the White House that helped him establish his position.
“Jackie Oh actually promoted him to butler because of the relationship,” Garrett said. “It plays an important role in making that happen.”
Garrett describes German as a family man who values service, especially the service of others.
A photo of German with former President Barack Obama and his wife Michelle Obama was included in the memoir of the former first lady “I’m getting up.” The photo of him in Obama’s book, combined with German’s common legacy, helped the family cope with his loss, according to his granddaughter.
German resigned from the White House in 2012.
“I want the world to remember my grandfather as a man who is truly authentic,” Garrett said. “You are always yourself. This is what our family has been taught, this is what thrives in our whole family. And we will continue to do so, his legacy. “
Garrett did not immediately respond to a request for comment from NBC News.
CORRECTION (May 21, 2020, 12:25 PM ET): An earlier version of this article incorrectly deduced the relationship of the man who confirmed the butler’s death. This was his granddaughter, not his daughter.
Peter Alexander contributed.