Jenna Bush Hager paid an emotional and heartfelt tribute to former White House butler Wilson Roosevelt Jerman, who died last weekend, describing him as “the loveliest” person who made the official residence feel like a real home.
Jerman died at the age of 91 after contracting the coronavirus. He served 11 presidents, from Dwight Eisenhower to Barack Obama, during his 55-year career at the White House. He retired in 2012.
The “Today” show host Bush Hager, the daughter of former President George W. Bush, reflected on Jerman’s impact on her family to co-host Hoda Kotb on Thursday’s episode.
“He was the loveliest. I think ‘lovely’ is a word that can kind of be overused. But he was always smiling,” she said. “You know, it’s interesting because people will say, ‘Gosh, how was the White House? Did it feel like home?’ And the reason why it felt like home was because of people like him.”
Bush Hager recalled telling former first lady Michelle Obama, when showing her around the White House, that the staff would become part of their family. At the funeral of another butler who she called “Smiley,” Bush Hager said Obama approached her and said she now knew what she meant.
“Smiley made my girls feel like this place was a home,’” Jenna remembered Obama telling her. “And Mr. Jerman did that in tenfold. We loved him. He was beloved by my family, and he will be so missed.”
Check out the interview here:
Bush Hager’s parents, former President George W. Bush and former first lady Laura Bush, also described Jerman as “a lovely man.”
Michelle Obama, who included a photograph of Jerman in her bestselling memoir “Becoming,” praised him for his “kindness and care” and for helping “make the White House a home for decades of First Families, including ours.”
“His service to others ― his willingness to go above and beyond for the country he loved and all those whose lives he touched ― is a legacy worthy of his generous spirit,” Obama added in a statement. “We were lucky to have known him. Barack and I send our sincerest love and prayers to his family.”
Former first lady Hillary Clinton also honored Jerman for making “generations of first families feel at home.”
Bill and I were saddened to hear of the passing of Wilson Roosevelt Jerman at the age of 91 from COVID-19. Jerman served as a White House butler across 11 presidencies and made generations of first families feel at home, including ours. Our warmest condolences to his loved ones.
— Hillary Clinton (@HillaryClinton) May 21, 2020
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