Ron Edmonds/AP Photo
Catherine Biden and her son at the Democratic National Convention in Denver in 2008.
Ron Edmonds/AP Photo
Vice President Joe Biden's mother, Catherine Finnegan Biden, died Friday at age 92 at the vice president's Delaware home.
Though she was a nonagenarian Biden's mother, known as "Jean" to family and friends, was healthy enough to appear at the Democratic National Convention in August 2008 and at a few other campaign appearances.
The vice president's office issued a statement:
"My mother, Catherine Eugenia "Jean" Finnegan Biden, passed away peacefully today at our home in Wilmington, Delaware, surrounded by her children, her grandchildren, her great-grandchildren and many loved ones. At 92, 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. 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. Her strength, which was immeasurable, will live on in all of us."
Catherine Eugenia "Jean" Finnegan Biden was born on July 17, 1917, the daughter of the late Ambrose J. Finnegan and the former Geraldine C. Blewitt of Scranton, Pennsylvania. In 1941, she married Joseph Robinette Biden. They were married for 61 years before Mr. Biden passed away in 2002.
Mrs. Biden is survived by her eldest son, Vice President Joseph R. Biden, Jr., his wife Jill Jacobs Biden and their three children, Joseph R. Biden, III, of Wilmington, Delaware, his wife Hallie Olivere Biden and their children, Natalie Paige Biden and Robert Hunter Biden, II; R. Hunter Biden of Washington, D.C., his wife Kathleen Buhle Biden and their children, Naomi King Biden, Finnegan James Biden and Roberta Mabel Biden; and Ashley Blazer Biden of Wilmington, Delaware; and by her daughter, Valerie Biden Owens of Kennett Square, Pennsylvania, her husband John T. Owens and their children Valerie James Owens, Cuffe Biden Owens and Catherine Eugenia Owens; and by her two younger sons, James Brian Biden of Merion Station, Pennsylvania, his wife Sara Jones Biden and their children, James Brian Biden, Jr., Caroline Nicole Biden and Nicholas Coleman Biden; and Francis W. Biden of Florida and his daughter, Alana Jaquet Biden.
Details on services for Mrs. Biden, 92, will be available in the coming days. On behalf of the Biden family, Valerie Biden Owens has requested that, in lieu of flowers, those wishing to make a contribution in memory of Mrs. Biden do so to a hospice, the Ministry of Caring in Wilmington, Delaware, or the Naomi Christina Biden Minority Scholarship Fund at Archmere Academy in Claymont, Delaware.
The Associated Press has the following obituary:
WILMINGTON, Del. (AP) - 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 seriously
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. Joseph Biden Sr. died in 2002 at age 86.
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 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."
Biden said he also learned honor and loyalty from his mother.
"When I got knocked down by guys bigger than me, and this is
the God's truth, she sent me back out the street and told me,
'Bloody their nose so you can walk down the street the next day.'
And that's what I did."
Raised in a family with a strong Irish Catholic tradition, Jean
Biden leaned on her faith in comforting her eldest son after his
wife and daughter were killed in a car crash in December 1972, the
month after he was elected to the Senate. His two sons were
"After the accident, she told me, 'Joey, God sends no cross
that you cannot bear,"' Biden recalled.
In his autobiography, Joe Biden recalled being mocked by a
seventh-grade nun for his stuttering, an incident that sent his
mother to his school in a fury, her children in tow.
"If you ever speak to my son like that again, I'll come back
and rip that bonnet off your head. Do you understand me?" she told
Joe Biden also recalled how when his mother couldn't find a pair
of cufflinks for him to wear to an eighth-grade dance, she
fashioned a pair from nuts and bolts, which left him mortified.
"Now look, Joey, if anybody says anything to you about these
nuts and bolts, you just look them right in the eye and say 'Don't
you have a pair of these?"' she told him.