“Tafari [Campbell] was a beloved part of our family. Our hearts are broken that he’s gone,” Barack and Michelle Obama said in a statement to CNN following the news that Tafari, 45, died on Monday (July 24) in a paddle boarding accident near the Obamas’ estate in Martha’s Vineyard. “When we first met him, he was a talented sous chef at the White House — creative and passionate about food and its ability to bring people together,” the Obamas’ statement continued. “In the years that followed, we got to know him as a warm, fun, extraordinarily kind person who made all of our lives a little brighter.”
That’s why, when we were getting ready to leave the White House, we asked Tafari to stay with us, and he generously agreed. He’s been part of our lives ever since, and our hearts are broken that he’s gone,” the former President of the United States and First Lady added in their statement. “Today, we join everyone who knew and loved Tafari — especially his wife Sherise and their twin boys, Xavier and Savin — in grieving the loss of a truly wonderful man.”
Campbell “was employed by former President Obama and was visiting Martha’s Vineyard at the time of his passing,” according to a news release from Massachusetts State Police. “President and Mrs. Obama were not present at the residence at the time of the accident.” Previously, the MSP issued a statement saying that “shortly before 10 AM, the body of the missing paddle boarder was recovered from Edgartown Great Pond by Massachusetts State Police divers. MSP Underwater Recovery Unit divers made the recovery after the victim’s body was located by Massachusetts Environmental Police Officers deploying side-scan sonar from a boat.”
“The recovery was made approximately 100 feet from shore at a depth of about eight feet,” the statement continued. “The investigation into the fatality is being conducted by the State Police Detective Unit for the Cape and Islands District and Edgartown Police.”
Campbell worked at the White House when the Obamas began their eight-year stay at 1700 Pennsylvania Avenue. He famously brewed the White House honey ale beer, using honey from Michelle’s hive located on the White House’s South Lawn. After Barack, 61, completed his two terms, Campbell continued working for the First Couple.
He is survived by his wife and their two boys.