News & Politics

Beloved White House Butler Retires After Nearly a Half Century

William "Buddy" Carter served several First Families.

William "Buddy" Carter in 2002. Photo by Tina Hager, Courtesy George W. Bush Presidential Library & Museum

William “Buddy” Carter, a beloved White House butler, is retiring after serving nine administrations over nearly 50 years, reports CNN.  

Carter was highly regarded by the First Families he served. When preparing the White House for state dinners, for example, he understood which spots in each room offered the best sight lines. In the 1990s, President Bill Clinton began most days with a visit from Carter, who was assigned to bring him his newspapers and coffee. 

“The history that Buddy has witnessed through the years is astonishing,” a source who used to work with Carter at the White House told CNN. “His eye for knowing how the White House works is unparalleled—no one knows it better than Buddy.”

The First Families’ affection for Carter continued long after they left Washington. He attended the weddings of Jenna Bush and Chelsea Clinton, as well as the funeral of ex-First Lady Barbara Bush. Carter traveled to that service in Texas with then-First Lady Melania Trump. 

“Buddy has always been caring and loyal,” said a source who worked with Carter. “And that’s what makes him so special.”

Carter, who is retiring in order to spend more time with his family, will be honored at a private reception at the White House today. 

Senior Writer

Luke Mullins is a senior writer at Washingtonian magazine focusing on the people and institutions that control the city’s levers of power. He has written about the Koch Brothers’ attempt to take over The Cato Institute, David Gregory’s ouster as moderator of NBC’s Meet the Press, the collapse of Washington’s Metro system, and the conflict that split apart the founders of Politico.