Beau Biden dead of brain cancer at 46

WASHINGTON — Vice President Joe Biden announced late Saturday that his son, Beau, has died of brain cancer. Beau Biden was 46.

“It is with broken hearts that Hallie, Hunter, Ashley, Jill and I announce the passing of our husband, brother and son, Beau, after he battled brain cancer with the same integrity, courage and strength he demonstrated every day of his life,” the vice president said in a statement late Saturday.

“The entire Biden family is saddened beyond words. We know that Beau’s spirit will live on in all of us, especially through his brave wife, Hallie, and two remarkable children.”

President Barack Obama said he and the first lady were grieving alongside the Biden family.

Joseph R. "Beau" Biden III

Joseph R. “Beau” Biden III

“Michelle and I humbly pray for the good Lord to watch over Beau Biden, and to protect and comfort his family here on Earth,” Obama said.

The younger Biden was a lawyer, member of the Delaware National Guard and former Delaware attorney general.

He was hospitalized earlier this month at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center. The vice president’s office had declined to say what he was being treated for.

In 2010, Beau Biden suffered a mild stroke. Three years later, he underwent surgery at a Texas cancer center to remove what was described as a small lesion.

He announced in April 2014 that he would not seek a third term as attorney general and instead planned to run for governor in 2016.

One of his last public appearances was in the annual Sussex County Return Day parade in November.

Rather than appear as a politician, he rode with the Delaware National Guard in a Humvee with Delaware Adjutant Gen. Frank Vavala.

Mr. Biden ’s decision not to run for attorney general shook up some prior speculation that Lt. Gov. Matt Denn would seek the Democratic nomination in 2016.

At Return Day, several people could be seen wearing stickers promoting Mr. Biden for governor in 2016,

News of Beau Biden’s death spread through the state late Saturday night.

“Carla and I are heartbroken for Hallie, his children, his parents, his siblings, and the entire Biden family,” said Gov. Jack Markell in a statement. “Beau spent his entire career in the service of his country and his state. He was an outstanding Attorney General, lawyer, soldier, and father.  I feel privileged to have served with him and Delaware is a better place thanks to him.

“Beau was also a friend. He was unfailingly interested in the well being of Carla, my kids and my extended family. My entire family is shattered by his death.”

In honor and remembrance of Mr. Biden’s life, the governor has directed that the U.S. and Delaware flags be flown at half-staff.

“Beau Biden was an extraordinary father, husband, son, and public servant, but above all, he was a good and decent man,” said U.S. Sen. Chris Coons, D-Del., who won the senate seat previously held by Vice President Biden and appointee Ted Kaufmann in 2010. “His passing is a great loss for his family and friends and for Delaware.

“Throughout his life, Beau never shied away from doing the right thing, even when it meant doing the hard thing. Beau served his country and community with honor, and that’s how he will be remembered.”

Mr. Biden’s political future has been a hot topic in the state for months with many wondering whether he would follow through with a run for governor after he fell from the public eye.

Even as he was turning over the attorney general’s seat in the 2014 election, Delawareans seemed intrigued by him. A University of Delaware survey in October found that he was seen positively by 60 percent of those surveyed, Only U.S. Sen. Tom Carper, D-Del., had slightly higher numbers.

In April 2014 when he announced his intentions, Mr. Biden announced the news in a letter to supporters and colleagues at the Delaware Department of Justice.

“Over the past few months, as I’ve been planning to run for reelection, I have also been giving a great deal of thought to running for governor in 2016. What started as a thought — a very persistent thought — has now become a course of action that I wish to pursue,” he said in the letter. “After careful consideration, I have concluded that it is not right to ask for your support in 2014, knowing that my focus would be divided between doing my job as Attorney General while at the same time running as a candidate for governor.

“Therefore, I am announcing today that I will not seek reelection as your attorney general this November.”

Mr. Biden served two terms as attorney general, winning election in 2006 and 2010.

“The Office of Attorney General is a four-year commitment. Its responsibilities are too significant, and the voters’ trust too important not to give it my complete and undivided attention. It should not be, nor can it become, a two-year staging ground for another elected office,” said Mr. Biden in his letter to supporters. “In the meantime, there’s a lot more work to do over the next eight months, and I intend to get it done. After my term is completed, I look forward to meeting with Delawareans and continuing to discuss my plans as a candidate for governor.”

The most high profile of Mr. Biden’s cases was the 2011 conviction of former Lewes pediatrician Earl Bradley on 471 charges of molesting, raping and exploiting 103 child patients and charged with an additional 58 offenses for alleged abuse of additional victims. The highly publicized case brought substantial changes in medical reporting laws and accountability.

U.S. Rep. John Carney, D-Del., released the following statement regarding the passing of Mr. Biden late Saturday.

“Tracey and I are heartbroken. It’s one of those times when you imagine if you try hard enough, the news somehow won’t be true. There are no words deep enough to express our sense of loss, and there are certainly no words meaningful enough to express our sympathy to Hallie and the children, to Joe, Jill, Hunter, Ashley, Valerie, and all the family. Beau had a warm and generous spirit. He was a truly giving person, and he appreciated the good in others in the way we all should. He leaves a legacy of service, and also a great personal legacy that calls on each of us to be more gentle in our judgments and more gracious with our thanks. He was one of the best of the good guys.”

Mr. Biden worked for the U.S. Department of Justice in its Philadelphia office from 1995 to 2004, eventually becoming a prosecutor in the U.S. Attorney’s Office. Before running for Delaware attorney general in 2006, he became a partner in the Wilmington law firm of Bifferato, Gentilotti, Biden & Balick.

In addition to his legal service, Mr. Biden served in the Delaware National Guard; his unit was deployed to Iraq in 2008 for a year.

“Martha and I just heard the news that Beau had passed away after a valiant struggle. Our hearts are breaking for Joe and Jill, for Hallie and their children, Natalie and Hunter, and for the entire Biden family,” said U.S. Sen. Thomas R. Carper, D-Del., late Saturday.

“Beau represented all that is good about Delaware and our country. He was the complete package – bright; hardworking; incredibly loyal to his family; a loving son, brother, husband and father, principled; handsome; well-spoken; unassuming. He had the heart of a servant, too. His future seemed to know no bounds.

“I first met Beau when he was 6 years old. He was the son that any of us would be proud to call our own. It’s been a privilege to watch him grow up and become a leader in our state and in the Delaware National Guard. My last memory of Beau was during the Return Day Parade in Georgetown, Delaware two days after last November’s election. I was walking along the parade route shaking hands with people just as Beau passed by, standing in a National Guard vehicle, waiving at the crowd. For a moment, our eyes met, he waived to me and I to him. Then, he mouthed these words to me, ‘I love you.’ I smiled and returned them to him. And, he was gone.”

Reach the Delaware State News newsroom at newsroom@newszap.com

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