Joe Biden is the 46th President of the United States Of America. He has had a long and eventful political career with the Presidency being its crowning and most likely the final stage. However, Joe Biden’s life and career haven’t been filled with successes and happiness alone. He has suffered tragic losses in his life. Perhaps the most tragic one of them all was the tragic death of his first wife Neilia Hunter. In this post, we will find out more about her demise and other tragedies that befell Joe Biden. Let’s get started.
Neilia Hunter: What Happened To Joe Biden’s First Wife?
Joe Biden has shown some of the personal strength in this campaign that he rarely exhibits in his political fights. The first debate between the two candidates to preside over the United States for the next four years, against Donald Trump, was closer to the reality shows of islands and survivors than expected in two seventy-year-olds (Biden was 77 years old and Trump was 74 at the time), but the Democratic candidate shored up his position in a crossroads of personal attacks. There was hardly any politics, not even speaking turns most of the time (at least not for Trump, who took the dialectical contest as just another television show), punctuated by a wave of name-calling between the two – “not one iota of smart “, “clown”, “liar”.
For Biden, since his formal nomination in August as the Democratic Party candidate, it meant the first reality check of a dream he has been pursuing for 22 years: the presidency of the US Government, to which the statistical expert Nate Silver gave him a 78% chance of success, 34 days before the elections. But, above all, for Biden, it was also another way of overcoming the tragedy that kept him from the 2016 primaries: the death of his son Beau Biden, the eldest of the three he had with his first wife, Neilia Hunter, also a victim of another tragedy.
What happened to Joe Biden’s son Beau Biden?
Beau, the family and public nickname for Joseph Robinette Biden III, passed away in 2015 of a brain tumor, a ferocious glioblastoma that Biden’s White House doctor Kevin O’Connor called “The Monster.” Beau was a better version of his father, a man who had checked all the right boxes for a fruitful political career. That he had given up the most prestigious universities to graduate from the same alma mater as his mother and his father. He had been the attorney general of the State of Delaware (the same one where his father had made a career), and he was thinking of running for governor of that state when illness prostrated him during endless months of suffering.
His father faced the worst of tragedies – burying the firstborn – in a book in which he recapitulated the last year of Beau’s life: Promise me, Dad (Dad, promise me that…). The book that he wrote in full mourning, while Donald Trump rose to power. Beau Biden, wrote his father, “had the best of me, but he had removed the factory defects and errors.” The pain also curtailed part of a dream that goes beyond the presidency: to establish the Bidens as a political dynasty, in the image and likeness of the Kennedys. The equivalent of hereditary nobility in a country without titles or nominal aristocracy. With one difference: the Bidens are not old money, they aren’t descendants of millionaires.
Who is Joe Biden’s father?
When now-former Vice President Joseph Robinette Biden Jr. was born into a Catholic family with Irish roots, his father had gone from being a wealthy oil businessman to struggling financially. The same ones that took the family from Pennsylvania to Delaware, to have to live in the house of the maternal grandparents, the Finnegans, in the small town of Wilmington. The first Joe Biden had gone from the expensive cars, spotless closet, and yachting vacation to the financial juggling of unemployment and junk jobs, with four children to support.
Hardship and alcohol ran hand in hand in the family, and the soon-to-be senator decided early on that he would not be swayed by the Irish stereotype. It’s one of three things he learned from that difficult childhood: the ravages of alcohol on loved ones. The other two things Biden learned before leaving for Delaware’s Syracuse University—prestigious, but not part of the Ivy League of Harvard, Princeton, or Yale—was to control his temper and his weaknesses (Biden’s childhood stutter was made up for with her fists as soon as a bully tried to use her as a bonanza); and make his own the phrase that his father put into his head and that he has used in all his campaigns: “My father used to say that no matter how many times you get knocked down, the measure of a man is how quickly you get up.”.
But the most important thing in this story is alcohol: “There are enough alcoholics in my family,” he usually answers when asked about his teetotaller life. One of them is his little brother, Frankie Biden, a 66-year-old recovering alcoholic who owes millions of dollars in fines and settlements for his past drunk driving. A recklessness that Joe Biden, as we will see, is especially affected. However, the senator has done everything possible for his sister to rehabilitate and work for his campaigns in search of redemption.
Who is Hunter Biden?
The other major addict in this story is his son, Hunter, at 49 years old, finally away from alcohol and drugs, and whom the Trump White House has seen as the perfect target to weaken the candidate. At one time, Joe Biden saw his son Hunter as the perfect support for Beau’s future presidential run.
But the last few years have left more scandals in his person than can be accumulated by three or four Kennedys. Businesses in Ukraine and supposed bastard children to keep apart, the most notorious was the revelation that in the same month of 2016, Hunter Biden spent a week hitting crack in Los Angeles; they pointed a gun at him when he went to buy crack at a junkie camp; he didn’t care and kept buying more drugs there; he went to Arizona in a rental car; they sued him for having left drug paraphernalia in his rental car (along with a prosecutor’s badge from his deceased brother and a Secret Service card that protected the family in the Obama years); he went to a rehab center; then to a spa where he received a visit from Beau’s widow, Hallie Biden. He got involved with his brother’s widow, and they started dating. All of this happened in just a month. The relationship would last less than a year.
Neilia Hunter and Naomi Biden: the tragic deaths
Beau Biden had also been with his father at the Wilmington train station (the same city where he grew up with his maternal grandparents) in Delaware on July 9, 1987, at the event in which Joe Biden, wrapped by his family, announced his intention to contest the Democratic primaries. The photo that opens this article. In that photo, in addition to Beau and Hunter, are his wife Jill, the mother of the baby present in the image: Ashley Biden. Jill is his second wife and still is. And she was the woman who lifted Biden from his worst life tragedy until 2015.
Who was Neilia Hunter?
Joe Biden almost left politics as soon as he entered. 15 years before his disastrous campaign – peppered with accusations of plagiarism – in 1972, Joe Biden had become one of the youngest senators in the United States. He was 30 years old and had just been elected by his state. He would join in 1973. He had been married for six years to Neilia Hunter, a Syracuse student whom he fell madly in love with the senator from minute one. She is the mother of Joe, Hunter, and Naomi, born in 1971.
On December 18, 1972, Joe Biden received a phone call. He explained it himself, in a speech to the Yale youth in 2015, weeks before the death of his son Beau.
Jill Biden, maiden Jacobs, is not the first wife of the new president. Joe was previously married to Neilia Hunter until a tragic accident cut their marriage short six years after their wedding. The then-wife of the politician was in the family van with her three children, when a truck with a trailer collided with them, killing Neilia and Naomi, her one-year-old daughter. In 2015, Biden referred to this episode during a commencement address at Yale University: “Six weeks after my election [as a senator from Delaware], my entire world was forever altered. While I was in Washington recruiting, I received a phone call. My wife and three children were Christmas shopping, and a tractor-trailer hit them and killed my wife and my daughter. And they were not sure that my two children could survive,” said the then-vice president.
Joe’s other two sons, Beau and Hunter, spent months in the hospital, so the politician had to focus on caring for his offspring now that they had lost their mother. “The incredible bond I have with them is a gift that I don’t know if I would have had if I hadn’t been through what I went through. By focusing on my children, I found my redemption,” Biden continued in his speech.
Little by little, the former vice president recovered from that tragedy and, three years after the accident, his brother introduced him to the young Jill Jacobs, who is a teacher by profession, like Joe’s late first wife.
Joe Biden thanked the rest of his family in his speech for their ability to overcome and, although he did not mention Beau’s illness, he talked about his dedication to his children. At the time of giving that speech, the Democratic Party machine was preparing the second confrontation between Hillary Clinton and Biden as favorite representatives of the blue establishment. But unlike in 1973, when the Democratic Senate Majority Leader, Mike Mansfield, talked him out of resigning, Joe Biden withdrew before starting. To write about his son, and the promises to keep.
And this, so tragic, is the story of how when, before the South Carolina primaries, among voices and political analyzes that considered his campaign amortized, Joe Biden decided not to give up. Because a political campaign has no punch to give his biography, compared to what fate has given him in the last 50 years.
Who did Joe Biden marry after the death of Neilia Hunter?
When they met, Jill Jacobs was still a college student. This is how she narrated it in an interview: “I was in the last year and I had been with boys in jeans, sneakers, and T-shirts. He appeared at the door in a coat and loafers and I thought ‘God, this will never happen’ “, she joked. According to her story, at first, she saw many obstacles to starting a relationship with the politician, especially the fact that he was nine years older than her.
However, on their first date, everything fell into place. “We went to see A Man and a Woman at the theater in Philly and had a great time. When we got home, he said goodnight. I went upstairs, called my mom at 1:00 in the morning, and said, ‘Mom, I have met a gentleman,'” she detailed.
In 2007, Joe Biden published his memoirs and spoke of his wife like this: ” She brought me back to life (…) It made me start to think that my family could be whole again.”
During their first two years of dating, a lovesick Joe tried up to five times to convince Jill that it was time to walk down the aisle. But she, who had established a close relationship with her partner’s children, was not ready to take that step: “I had fallen in love with the children and I felt that this marriage had to work. They had lost their mother and I could not allow them to lose someone else. I had to be 100% sure.”
Finally, Joe gave his girl an ultimatum and they ended up getting married on June 17, 1977, in the United Nations chapel in New York. The ceremony was held in the strictest privacy, with only 40 attendees from the family environment and close friends of the couple.
At the altar, along with the bride and groom, were Biden’s two sons, Beau and Hunter. In addition, the children also traveled with them on their honeymoon, showing that this marriage had created an unbreakable family bond.
Joe and Jill thus laid the foundations of a new life in which the politician intended to leave behind the tragedy that marked his previous stage of love. In 1981, the couple had their first daughter together, Ashley, the fourth for Biden.
Tragedy strikes again
After three decades of happiness, tragedy once again loomed over the Bidens. Beau, the vice president’s eldest son, was diagnosed with a brain tumor in 2013 and, after two years of fighting the disease, died in 2015 at the age of 46.
This hard blow made Joe Biden resign from the presidential race in 2016, withdrawing from political life to wrap himself in his family and, above all, in his inseparable wife Jill, the same one who has been by his side during this last electoral campaign. Mrs. Biden has been the president’s greatest support and also his greatest protector, in the most literal sense of the word. Just remember the viral moment in which Jill, during an act on March 4, did not hesitate to stand between her husband and a protester who had stormed the stage. A gesture that gives a good account of the love professed by the new presidential couple. Neilia Hunter might have been cruelly taken away from Joe Biden many years ago, but his second wife Jill Biden has really stood by his side through thick and thin since then. Without her, Joe Biden would probably never have been the President of the United States Of America.