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Jean Biden, mother of the vice president, dies in Delaware at age 92

WILMINGTON, Del. — Jean Biden, who raised her son Vice President Joe Biden to believe in what he called "America's creed (that) … 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.

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.

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, a month after he was elected to the Senate. His two sons were seriously injured.

"After the accident, she told me, 'Joey, God sends no cross that you cannot bear,' " Joe Biden recalled.

Jean Biden is survived by the vice president, daughter Valerie Biden Owens of Kennett Square, Pa., and sons James Brian Biden of Merion Station, Pa., and Francis W. Biden of Florida. She had 10 grandchildren and five great-grandchildren.

Details of the funeral services will be released in coming days, the vice president's office said.

Jean Biden, mother of the vice president, dies in Delaware at age 92 01/08/10 [Last modified: Friday, January 8, 2010 11:15pm]
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