Here is a biography and photos of one of the influential voices in our Vice President’s life, Jean Biden. Joe Biden’s mother passed away today at the age of 92 at her home in Wilmington, Delaware surrounded by family and friends.

Jean Biden


To say that she was the most influential person’s in Biden’s life is clear. Joe Biden’s father was by all accounts a failure in life. One business after another like a Wall Street banker forced the Biden children to move in with their grandparents at an early age. Later the family came back together but was never the same with a challenging father.

Critics may be correct, at least partly, that the lack of an admirable male role in his life shaped the Vice President’s character, particularly an issue with candor. Biden developed a propensity to stretch the truth frequently and still displays an out of place grin which appears at inappropriate times.

Jean Biden developed a close personal bond with her son that lasted a lifetime. It become even stronger after the other strong maternal direction for his life left him. Joe’s wife Neilia Biden died in an automobile accident in 1972. Now two of the three most influential people in our Veep’s life, both women, are gone. Only current wife Jill Biden remains.

As a biography Jean Biden was born Catherine Eugenia Finnegan in 1917. Her hometown was Scranton Pennsylvania where she married Joseph Robinette Biden Sr. in 1941 and the new family settled. Scranton became a boom in the 1940s as local coal mines flourished and the steel industry burgeoned in the post-war period. There Joe was born in a sea of opportunistic business success only to see the family fortune squandered away by greed. She had three other children, two sons named James and Francis, and a daughter named Valerie.

As circumstances warranted the children were relocated to Deleware to live with grandparents during Joe’s formative years. He fell in love with the state away from home, so fate would have it that Joe became a native son and eventually a Senator there.

Part of his own biography is dedicated to his mother, Jean Biden. In it he writes that she said, “Remember Joey. You’re a Biden. Nobody is better than you. You’re not better than anybody else, but nobody is better than you.” You can see where the Biden chip on the shoulder comes from.

Biden issued a press release today which mourned her passing in similar words that belay that sense of inferiority-requiring-affirmation felt stereotypically by Irish Americans but particularly the Biden clan. “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.”

She was seen in the audience at his VP acceptance speech nodding approval when he reminisced about his mom. She was a fighting spirit who demanded that he defend himself in school with fists when other kids teased him for stuttering. When the nuns protested his actions, legend has it that Jean Biden said, according to his biography, “if you ever speak to my son like that again, I’ll come back and rip that bonnet off your head.”

So that is the story of Joe Biden’s mother. May Jean Biden rest in peace, but with her passing may Joe find the inner strength to persevere as his own man. The country needs strength in leadership now more than ever.