US ELECTION 2020

Joe Biden family life: his first wife, children, personal tragedies

US president-elect Joe Biden has suffered his fair share of personal tragedies. His first wife and daughter were killed in a car crash and he lost his son to illness.

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Joe Biden family life: his first wife, children, personal tragedies
JONATHAN ERNST REUTERS

When it comes to personal tragedy, US president-elect Joe Biden has first-hand knowledge. The 77-year-old, who emerged victorious to become the 46th president of the United States, has lost several family members prematurely.

Joe Biden married Neilia Hunter after a two-year romance on 27 August 1966 while he was still a law student at Syracuse, New York. The couple had three children – two sons, Joseph ‘Beau’ Biden and Robert Hunter Biden and a daughter Naomi Christina ‘Amy’. Tragedy struck the family on the afternoon of 18 December 1972 when Biden’s wife Neilia had taken their three young children out with her to do the Christmas shopping. The Chevrolet station wagon which Neilia was driving was hit by a tractor-trailer carrying corn as she pulled out at the intersection of Valley Road and Limestone Road, killing her and 13-month-old Naomi. The Biden’s two sons Beau (4) and Hunter (3) suffered serious injuries, a broken leg and fractured skull respectively, but fortunately survived.

Hunter, now 50, is a lawyer and investment advisor. He has three children from his marriage to Kathleen Buhle but the couple divorced in 2017.

Joe Biden remarries

Joe Biden remarried in 1977, marrying Jill Stevenson (née Jacobs) who became stepmother to Beau and Hunter. Jill Biden, a professor with four degrees, including a doctorate is a full-time lecturer in the English department at Northern Virginia Community College. The couple have a daughter, Ashley, who was born on 8 June 1981. Ashley is a social worker, activist, philanthropist, fashion designer and founder of ethical fashion company Livelihood. She is married to a plastic surgeon, Howard Krein.

Beau Biden dies

Tragedy was to strike the Bidens again in 2010 when Beau, then aged 41, was admitted to Christiana Hospital in Newark, Delaware after suffering a mild stroke. Three years later, while on holiday, he was taken to MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston after suddenly feeling weak and disoriented. A small brain lesion was located and removed. Beau was then given a clean bill of health until he was diagnosed with brain cancer in 2013. He underwent several operations, chemotherapy and radiation but succumbed to the disease on 30 May 2015. He was aged 46.