WILMINGTON, Del. – Jean Biden, who raised her son Vice President Joe Biden to believe in what he called “America’s creed … everyone is your equal,” died Friday after falling ill in recent days. She was 92.
In a statement, the vice president said she died in Wilmington surrounded by her family and loved ones. She had suffered a broken hip in a fall in March 2009.
“Together with my father, her husband of 61 years who passed away in 2002, we learned the dignity of hard work and that you are defined by your sense of honor,” he said in the statement. “Her strength, which was immeasurable, will live on in all of us.”
Joe Biden Jr. was first elected to the Senate in 1972, shortly before his 30th birthday. His mother helped out by organizing coffee klatches – part of a family effort that also included Biden’s father, sister and brothers.
“Those of you who have met my mom, you know she’s fairly politically astute, and she still runs the show,” the vice president quipped shortly after she fell last year.
“You think I’m joking? I’m not,” he said.
The former Catherine Eugenia Finnegan was born July 7, 1917, in Scranton, Pa. In 1941, she married businessman Joseph Biden Sr., with whom she had four children. The couple moved from Scranton to Claymont, Del., in 1953, when their eldest son, Joe, was 10 years old.
According to Biden’s 2007 autobiography, “Promises to Keep,” his mother had some reservations about whether he should risk a promising career as a young lawyer to enter politics.
“You’re not going to run for Senate and ruin your reputation, are you?” he recalled his mother asking.
“And once Mom was reassured that my future was safe, win or lose, she would do anything,” Biden wrote.
Biden was elected vice president as Barack Obama’s running mate. In his speech at the Democratic National Convention in Denver in August 2008, he paid tribute to his mother, who was in the audience.
“My mother’s creed is the American creed: No one is better than you,” he said. “Everyone is your equal, and everyone is equal to you. My parents taught us to live our faith and to treasure our families. We learned the dignity of work, and we were told that anyone can make it if they just try hard enough.”