Vice President's Mother, Jean Finnegan Biden, Passes Away at 92

Vice President Joe Biden spoke frequently, affectionately of their relationship.

ByABC News
January 7, 2010, 5:51 PM

Jan. 8, 2010— -- Vice President Joe Biden's mother, Jean Finnegan Biden, died today in Wilmington Delaware at the age of 92. She was surrounded by family members.

"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," Biden said in a statement released by his office. "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."

Biden said his mother passed away "surrounded by her children, her grandchildren, her great-grandchildren and many loved ones."

The Vice President was in Wilmington on Thursday to be with his mother and family. A statement from Biden's office said that Mrs. Biden had taken "seriously ill in recent days." A source close to the family said she had been in hospice care recently.

Mrs. Biden lived with her son and his family at their Greenville, Del. home, in a smaller carriage house on the property. She did not make the move to Washington after he was sworn in as vice president, but the vice president frequently spent weekends in Delaware with her.

In a 2008 campaign speech Biden extolled the importance of children taking care of their parents.

"Make sure your mother doesn't go without what she needs in her later years or your father," he said in Wisconsin on Sept. 8

The vice president often said that his mother "runs the show," depicting her as the classic matriarch of a large family that consisted of four children and over a dozen grandchildren and great-grandchildren. Mrs. Biden's husband, Joseph Biden Sr., died in 2002.

Mrs. Biden appeared to be in good health during the 2008 presidential campaign. She stood on stage with the extended Biden family after her son delivered perhaps his most important speech of his political career, accepting the vice presidential nomination at the Democratic National Convention in Denver.

Mrs. Biden even hit the campaign trail with her son, dropping by a picnic in the backyard of their old home in Scranton, Pa., on Labor Day. She voted with her son in Delaware on Election Day, walking hand-in-hand into the school where the polls were located and later joined the family on stage that night for the victory celebration in Chicago.

She underwent surgery on March 16, 2009 for a hip fracture that she suffered after a fall at home.

Biden went home to be with her at the hospital in Philadelphia and said that when he arrived he told his mother he had cleared his schedule to be able to spend time with her.

That did not sit well with Mrs. Biden, who knew her son had a standing engagement to deliver remarks to International Association of Firefighters later that day.

Biden said his mother insisted he keep that appointment - "She said, 'Joey, talk to the fire fighters.'"

Biden retold the exchange in his remarks to the firefighters in Washington - showing that even the man who is first-in-line to the presidency knows to not disobey his mother's advice.