Joe Biden first’s wife, Neilia Hunter Biden, whose tragic death shaped the president career
Neilia Hunter was a daughter of a successful diner operator in New York state. Neilia was born on July 28, 1942, in the wealthy town of Skaneateles. She graduated from Penn Hall Preparatory School in Chambersburg, Pennsylvania, in 1960.
She was involved in the French club, hockey, swimming, and student council, and served as the Penntonian photography editor, as well as vice president and later president of the International Relations Club. , according to her school’s yearbook.
In 1963, Neilia, then a sophomore at Syracuse University, met Joe Biden, then a University of Delaware student, on the beach in Nassau during spring break.
Biden wrote in Promises to Keep, “When she turned toward me, I could see she had a beautiful smile and gorgeous green eyes. She was lit by the unforgiving journey of a full afternoon sun, and I couldn’t see a single flaw.”
Biden found Neilia warm, bright, genuine smile, and refreshing on earth, unaffected by his humble upbringing in Scranton, Pennsylvania, and Wilmington, Delaware. When their relationship made progress, her parents overcame all doubts about his politics (he’s a Democrat, they were a Republican) and religious faith (he’s Catholic, they were Presbyterian).
When asked about his career goals, Biden told his future wife’s mother: “President.” After earning his bachelor’s degree in Delaware, Biden moved to Syracuse law school. There, Neilia got a master’s degree in English and taught students with special needs.
The couple got married on August 27, 1966, while he was still attending law school. He called his time there a “dangerous combination of arrogance and sloppiness” and eventually graduated 76th in a class of 85.
“Once I had Neilia with me, it became more of a plan than a daydream,” Biden wrote in his memoir Promises to Keep. “Now I could see the picture whole.”
After graduation, the pair moved to the suburb of Wilmington, where he practiced law and joined the New Castle County Council.
According to The News Journal, although Neilia Hunter was a Republican, Neilia Biden enrolled as a Democrat.
On November 8, 1971, their first and only daughter Naomi was born. Naomi, nicknamed “Amy”, was the youngest of three kids, with two older brothers Beau and Hunter.
Joe Biden wife and daughter killed
In November 1972, Joe Biden hit the headlines as the 29-year-old attorney, who scored an upset victory over Senator Caleb Boggs to represent Delaware in the Senate – one of the youngest people ever elected to the body. But another headline a month after the election would change his life forever: “Joe Biden wife and daughter killed in a car crash.”
The tragic incident occurred on December 18, a Monday after Biden had just been elected to the Senate and set up his temporary office in Washington, D.C., while Neilia stayed at their new home in northeastern Delaware with the intention of shopping for Christmas.
At about 2:30 p.m., Neilia was driving westbound on Valley Road in the countryside in Hockessin, three children with her in the wagon of the family station. She passed a stop sign and plowed into the path of a steaming tractor-trailer along Route 7 to Pennsylvania.
Biden’s sons, Hunter and Beau, were 3 and 4 years old at that time and also seriously injured in the collision.
According to reports, the accident caused the station wagon to plunge about 150 feet into an embankment, causing the “Biden for Senators” campaign literature to be scattered afterward.
The family was quickly pulled from the wreckage of the vehicle and rushed to Wilmington General Hospital, but it was too late for Neilia and Amy, 13 months, who were presumed dead on arrival. The two boys were luckier, though Beau had a broken leg and Hunter had a skull fracture.
Joe Biden quickly knew something terrible happened
In a 2008 memoir Promises to Keep, Biden wrote that he could feel something terrible occur after his sister, Valerie Biden Owens, was on the phone at his office that afternoon. After his sister put the phone down and suggested they return home because of a “slight accident”, he responded with, “She’s dead, isn’t she?”
A rushed flight back to Wilmington, Delaware confirmed the worst of his suspicions, but Joe didn’t get a chance to fully deal with his grief as his young sons were still in unsure condition. At the time, he wrote, he understood how tempting suicide was, even though he knew he could never abandon Beau and Hunter along with their mother and sister went too.
He recovered by focusing on the happiness of his surviving sons
Biden eventually climbed back with help from his Senate colleagues and the support of his sister, although it was his focus on Beau and Hunter’s happiness that helped the three of them move on with their lives.
Five years after the tragic accident, Biden married Jill Jacobs, who he met on a blind date, a student at the University of Delaware.
The pair got married on June 17, 1977, at the United Nations Chapel in New York City. Beau and Hunter attended both the ceremony and honeymoon.
Hunter named his daughter Naomi to honor his late sister.
President Biden has replied to the tragedies of his life to help speak to those who felt similarly lost.
More than 40 years later, Beau died because of brain cancer. After Beau’s death, Biden concentrated on the significance of cancer research and led the Cancer Moonshot program during the Obama administration.
Shortly after losing his son, Biden spoke about his grief in an interview with late-night TV host Stephen Colbert, and the role of his faith.
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