Joseph Robinette “Beau” Biden III, son of Vice President Joe Biden, passed away from brain cancer on Saturday. He was 46 years old.
Condolences have poured in across the globe to convey deep sorrow at his loss and prayers for his family.
Beau Biden joined the Deleware Army National Guard in 2003 where he earned the rank of major in the Judge Advocate General Corps. In 2006 he was elected state attorney general, and quickly became the state’s most admired public figure. His political prospects exploded during his speech at the Democratic National Convention in 2008 when he introduced his father as the nominee for Vice President.
In 1972, Vice President Biden lost his first wife Neilia and 13-month-old baby girl, Naomi in a tragic car accident when they were struck by a tractor-trailer. Beau and his brother Hunter both suffered injuries from the crash but survived. In his speech at the DNC, Beau spoke proudly of his father during such a difficult time.
“One of my earliest memories was being in that hospital, Dad always at our side. We, not the Senate, were all he cared about,” Mr. Biden said. “He decided not to take the oath of office. He said, ‘Delaware can get another senator, but my boys can’t get another father.’ However, great men like Ted Kennedy, Mike Mansfield, Hubert Humphrey — men who had been tested themselves — convinced him to serve. So he was sworn in, in the hospital, at my bedside.”
Many expected Beau Biden to run for his father’s open Senate seat in 2008, but having just been elected attorney general, he chose to remain in his elected office and pursue a significant case at his agency against a pediatrician accused of child molestation. Mr. Biden stated, “I have a duty to fulfill as attorney general, and the immediate need to focus on a case of great consequence. And that is what I must do.”
During his father’s run for Vice President, Beau’s unit was deployed to Iraq where he served for a year and earned a Bronze Star. His only leave was to see his father take the oath of office.
In 2010, Mr. Biden suffered a mini-stroke that left him weary of long-term, political plans, but he ran for a second term as attorney general, and won. In 2014, he announced his plans to run for governor in the next race.
After a small episode of what was described as “disorientation and weakness,” in August of 2013, Beau Biden was admitted to MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston where he was diagnosed with brain cancer, and underwent surgery to remove a small lesion from his brain. He followed up with a standard protocol of radiation and chemotherapy, and received a clean bill of health in November of 2013.
As recent as this past February, Mr. Biden spoke of his plans to run for governor, however after a recurrence of the cancer in spring, he was admitted to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda to undergo aggressive treatment that proved unsuccessful against his declining health.
“The entire Biden family is saddened beyond words. We know that Beau’s spirit will live on in all of us – especially through his brave wife, Hallie, and two remarkable children, Natalie 11 and Hunter 9,” said a statement released by the Vice President on Saturday.
President Obama and the First Lady expressed their grief in a statement released on Saturday where he called Beau “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.” He also referred to Vice President Biden as “one of the strongest men he’s ever known.”
A sense of grief was felt by all and political officials and along with many celebrities posted heartfelt words of condolences to social media.