Beau Biden at the 2012 DNC
Beau Biden at the 2012 Democratic National Convention in Charlotte. (Photo by NPI's good friend Al Garman, reproduced with permission)

For­mer Delaware Attor­ney Gen­er­al and Delaware Army Nation­al Guard Major Beau Biden, the son of Vice Pres­i­dent Joe Biden, has died after suc­cumb­ing to brain can­cer, the Vice Pres­i­den­t’s office has announced. He was only forty-six.

“It is with bro­ken hearts that Hal­lie, Hunter, Ash­ley, Jill and I announce the pass­ing of our hus­band, broth­er and son, Beau, after he bat­tled brain can­cer with the same integri­ty, courage and strength he demon­strat­ed every day of his life,” said the Vice Pres­i­dent in a state­ment sent to NPI by the White House.

Beau Biden speaking on the campaign trail
Beau Biden speak­ing on the cam­paign trail (Pho­to cour­tesy of Chris Coons for Senate)

“The entire Biden fam­i­ly is sad­dened beyond words,” the Vice Pres­i­dent con­tin­ued. “We know that Beau’s spir­it will live on in all of us—especially through his brave wife, Hal­lie, and two remark­able chil­dren, Natal­ie and Hunter.

“Beau’s life was defined by ser­vice to oth­ers. As a young lawyer, he worked to estab­lish the rule of law in war-torn Koso­vo. A major in the Delaware Nation­al Guard, he was an Iraq War vet­er­an and was award­ed the Bronze Star.”

“As Delaware’s Attor­ney Gen­er­al, he fought for the pow­er­less and made it his mis­sion to pro­tect chil­dren from abuse. More than his pro­fes­sion­al accom­plish­ments, Beau mea­sured him­self as a hus­band, father, son and broth­er. His absolute hon­or made him a role mod­el for our fam­i­ly. Beau embod­ied my father’s say­ing that a par­ent knows suc­cess when his child turns out bet­ter than he did.”

“In the words of the Biden fam­i­ly: Beau Biden was, quite sim­ply, the finest man any of us have ever known.”

Beau Biden keynotes embassy dedication
On March 22nd, 2012, U.S. Ambas­sador Mark H. Giten­stein offi­cial­ly ded­i­cat­ed the new Embassy in Bucharest, Roma­nia. The cer­e­mo­ny includ­ed a rib­bon-cut­ting and the unveil­ing of a plaque that has been placed on the main entrance to the Embassy. The keynote speak­er for the event was Delaware Attor­ney Gen­er­al Joseph R. “Beau” Biden, III. (Pho­to: Unit­ed States Embassy Romania)

Pres­i­dent Barack Oba­ma added a lengthy state­ment of his own express­ing his fam­i­ly’s pro­found sad­ness and con­do­lences to the Bidens.

“Michelle and I are griev­ing tonight,” the Pres­i­dent said. “Beau Biden was a friend of ours.  His beloved fam­i­ly – Hal­lie, Natal­ie, and Hunter – are friends of ours. And Joe and Jill Biden are as good as friends get.”

“Beau took after Joe. He stud­ied the law, like his dad, even choos­ing the same law school. He chased a life of pub­lic ser­vice, like his dad, serv­ing in Iraq and as Delaware’s Attor­ney Gen­er­al. Like his dad, Beau was a good, big-heart­ed, devout­ly Catholic and deeply faith­ful man, who made a dif­fer­ence in the lives of all he touched – and he lives on in their hearts. But for all that Beau Biden achieved in his life, noth­ing made him proud­er; noth­ing made him hap­pi­er; noth­ing claimed a fuller focus of his love and devo­tion than his family.”

“Just like his dad.”

“Joe is one of the strongest men we’ve ever known.  He’s as strong as they come, and noth­ing mat­ters to him more than fam­i­ly.  It’s one of the things we love about him.  And it is a tes­ta­ment to Joe and Jill – to who they are – that Beau lived a life that was full; a life that mat­tered; a life that reflect­ed their rev­er­ence for family.”

“The Bidens have more fam­i­ly than they know.  In the Delaware they love.  In the Sen­ate Joe reveres.  Across this coun­try that he has served for more than forty years.  And they have a fam­i­ly right here in the White House, where hun­dreds of hearts ache tonight – for Hal­lie, Natal­ie, and Hunter; for Joe and for Jill; for Beau’s broth­er, Hunter; his sis­ter, Ash­ley, and for the entire Biden clan.”

“ ‘I have believed the best of every man,’ wrote the poet William But­ler Yeats, ‘And find that to believe it is enough to make a bad man show him at his best or even a good man swing his lantern higher.’ ”

“Beau Biden believed the best of us all.  For him, and for his fam­i­ly, we swing our lanterns high­er. Michelle and I humbly pray for the good Lord to watch over Beau Biden, and to pro­tect and com­fort his fam­i­ly here on Earth.”

All of us at NPI are sad­dened to hear of the death of Beau Biden, and we extend our deep­est con­do­lences to the Sec­ond Fam­i­ly, as well as the First Fam­i­ly. Beau Biden was an exem­plary pub­lic ser­vant, an accom­plished sol­dier, and a lov­ing father. His death is a great loss for Delaware and for the Unit­ed States of America.

Beau Biden was born Feb­ru­ary 3rd, 1969, as the first child of Joe Biden and Neil­ia Hunter. His moth­er Neil­ia and sis­ter Nao­mi Christi­na Biden trag­i­cal­ly died in 1972 in a car crash, in which he and his broth­er Hunter were also crit­i­cal­ly injured.

Like his father, he was edu­cat­ed at Arch­mere Acad­e­my. He lat­er attend­ed the Uni­ver­si­ty of Penn­syl­va­nia and Syra­cuse Uni­ver­si­ty Col­lege of Law. After grad­u­at­ing, he went to work for the Depart­ment of Jus­tice in Philadel­phia, Penn­syl­va­nia, ulti­mate­ly becom­ing a fed­er­al pros­e­cu­tor. He was briefly a part­ner in the law firm of Bif­fer­a­to, Gen­tilot­ti, Biden & Bal­ick before win­ning elec­tion as the forty-fourth attor­ney gen­er­al of Delaware in 2006. He served two terms and had been plan­ning to run for gov­er­nor to suc­ceed Jack Markell next year.

Beau Biden at the 2012 DNC
Beau Biden at the 2012 Demo­c­ra­t­ic Nation­al Con­ven­tion in Char­lotte. (Pho­to by NPI’s good friend Al Gar­man, repro­duced with permission)

At both the 2008 and 2012 Demo­c­ra­t­ic Nation­al Con­ven­tions, Beau deliv­ered mem­o­rable and stir­ring speech­es intro­duc­ing his father Joe Biden. I can well remem­ber watch­ing those intro­duc­to­ry remarks — they were compelling.

Beau Biden was wide­ly admired and respect­ed in his home state of Delaware, as can be seen from the out­pour­ing of grief in response to his pass­ing. He will be sore­ly missed. Tonight, our prayers and deep­est sym­pa­thies are with all who knew him well, espe­cial­ly the fam­i­ly and good friends that he leaves behind.

About the author

Andrew Villeneuve is the founder and executive director of the Northwest Progressive Institute, as well as the founder of NPI's sibling, the Northwest Progressive Foundation. He has worked to advance progressive causes for over two decades as a strategist, speaker, author, and organizer. Andrew is also a cybersecurity expert, a veteran facilitator, a delegate to the Washington State Democratic Central Committee, and a member of the Climate Reality Leadership Corps.

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One reply on “Beau Biden: 1969–2015”

  1. From all accounts, Beau was a great man. What a loss for Amer­i­ca, Delaware, and espe­cial­ly the Biden family. 

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