U.S. Vice President Biden's mother dies, aged 92

Sunday, January 10, 2010

U.S. Vice President Joseph R. Biden (Circa 2009)
Image: Andrew Cutraro.

Catherine Eugenia "Jean" Biden, mother of United States Vice President Joe Biden and matriarch of the Biden family, died Friday evening after suffering from a brief illness – possibly related to a recent hip fracture. She was 92 years-old.

In a statement to the Associated Press, the Vice President said his mother died at home in Wilmington, Delaware surrounded by family and friends. Details of scheduled funeral services and memorials will be released in the upcoming days, the Vice President’s Washington office said.

Jean Biden, whom the Vice President often quipped "ran the show" and taught him to believe in what he calls "America's creed ... [how] everyone is your equal and nobody is better than you," was always a source of strength for Biden ever since he was a young working-class boy growing up Scranton.

In his autobiography, Joe Biden recalls, when in seventh-grade, being publicly mocked at school by a belligerent nun for his speech impediment. The current Vice President maintains that, upon hearing this, his mother went to the school, confronted the nun, telling her, "If you ever speak to my son like that again, I'll come back and rip that bonnet right off your head! Do you understand me?"

He also writes about how his mother, a devout Irish-Catholic, used her faith in comforting him after his wife and daughter were killed in a car crash in December 1972 – the month he was elected to his first term as a Delaware Senator. He emotionally writes how, "After the accident, she told me, 'Joey, God sends no cross that you cannot bear...'"

Biden also states that his mother taught him to have dignity, self-respect, and principle. On the subject he remembers how, in his youth, "When[ever] I got knocked down by guys bigger than me, and this is the God's truth, she sent me back out [on] the street and told me, 'Bloody their nose so you can walk down the street the next day.' And that's what I did.'"

Biden said in a separate statement to the media, "Together with my father, her husband of sixty-one years who passed away in 2002, we learned the dignity of hard work, and that you are defined by your sense of honor. Her strength, which was immeasurable, will live on in all of us."

He continued, "She was the center of our family, and taught all of her children that family is to be treasured, loyalty is paramount, and faith will guide you through the tough times. She believed in us, and because of that, we believed in ourselves."

Jean Biden is survived by the Vice President, two other sons, her daughter, grandchildren, and five great-grandchildren.