Eugene Allen started work at the White House in 1952, retiring as a butler in 1986. In all that time he never missed a day of work, with the exception of a state dinner with Helmut Kohl that Nancy Reagan would not let him work.
First lady Nancy Reagan came looking for him in the kitchen one day. She wanted to remind him about the upcoming dinner for West German Chancellor Helmut Kohl. He told her he was well ahead in the planning and had already picked out the china. But she told him he would not be working that night.Mr. Allen's career and his pride in the election of Barack Obama to the Presidency is described in this piece in the Washington Post. If Mr. Obama does not keep company with Eugene Allen on 1/20/09 it will make a large statement about his character.
"She said, 'You and Helene are coming to the state dinner as guests of President Reagan and myself.' I'm telling you! I believe I'm the only butler to get invited to a state dinner."
Husbands and wives don't sit together at these events, and Helene was nervous about trying to make small talk with world leaders. "And my son says, 'Mama, just talk about your high school. They won't know the difference.'
"The senators were all talking about the colleges and universities that they went to," she says." I was doing as much talking as they were.
Don't miss the sad ending.