Friday, April 2, 2010

Eugene Allen, White House Butler to 8 Presidents, Dead at Age 90

Eugene Allen was an ordinary man who led an extraordinary life. He died yesterday at the age of 90. Eugene served 8 Presidents, beginning with Harry Truman, as White House Butler. His stories are poignant. Alot of them are catalogued in the great Washington Post article attached below. The accompanying photo gallery is excellent.

Eugene was especially close to President Ford with whom he shared a birthday. His JFK funeral reflection, and his President Eisenhower memory are especially good. He recalls beautifully Nancy Reagan inviting he and his wife to an official White House Dinner upon the announcement of his retirement. He served LBJ cups of milk and scotch to sooth his stomach as Vietnam protesters were outside the gates of the White House. What stories he could tell.

One of his best reflections involves Martin Luther King. Eugene looked up one day and Dr. King was standing in the White House kitchen door. Dr. King always insisted on speaking with the maids and butlers. Dr. King complimented Eugene on the cut of his tuxedo. Eugene smiled.

After being born in Scottsville, Va. in 1919, and suffering through the days of the Jim Crow era before going to the White House, Eugene recalls as his greatest day when he was escorted by a US Marine to his VIP seat, his eyes watering, to watch the first black President sworn in on January 20, 2009 when Eugene was age 89. He had received a VIP invitation to President Obama's inauguration.

Extraordinary lives lived by ordinary people are fascinating. RIP Eugene. Well done.

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