Joe Biden has been married to his wife, Dr. Jill Biden, a teacher, since the late 1970s. Together, the Bidens have forged a strong family out of what was a shattering tragedy.
As many people know, when Jill met Joe Biden, the eventual vice president and presidential candidate was picking up the pieces of a broken family because his first wife died in a car crash that also killed the couple’s infant daughter. That left Joe Biden as the widowed dad of two boys, Hunter and Beau.
However, Joe Biden met Jill, the rest is history, and he credits the eventual English professor with helping him regain a sense of family, happiness, and hope.
Here’s what you need to know about Jill Biden and Joe Biden:
1. Jill & Joe Biden Were Married in 1977 & He Says She Gave Him His Life Back
The story of Jill and Joe Biden is one of great strength in the face of tragedy. Jill gained an instant family when she married Joe, and the couple would also go on to have a daughter together named Ashley.
When they married, Joe’s sons Hunter and Beau, from his first tragic marriage, stood at the altar with their dad. “The way they thought of it, the four of us were getting married,” Joe recalled in his book.
Joe and Jill married on June 17, 1977 at the United Nations chapel in New York City.
“She gave me back my life,” Joe Biden said in his 2007 book Promises to Keep. “She made me start to think my family might be whole again.”
2. Joe Saw Jill Biden’s Modeling Photo & Was ‘Smitten’
Joe Biden literally picked his wife out of an advertisement.
According to Vogue Magazine, Jill Biden was doing some modeling in Delaware when Joe Biden spotted her photo. “Joe Biden saw her picture in an advertisement posted on a bus shelter and was smitten,” the magazine reports.
He had to work a family connection to reach her, getting Jill’s unlisted number through his brother, Frankie. “I was a senior, and I had been dating guys in jeans and clogs and T-shirts,” Jill told Vogue. “And he came to the door and he had on a sport coat and loafers, and I thought, God, this is never going to work, not in a million years. He was nine years older than I am!”
Their first date was to a movie called A Man and a Woman in Philadelphia, the magazine reports, and they “hit it off.” He shook her hand instead of trying to kiss her, so she thought he was a gentleman and had a positive impression.
3. Jill Biden Wanted a Marriage Like Her Parents’ Union
Jill wrote on Instagram, “Growing up, I wanted two things: a marriage like my parents’—strong, loving, and full of laughter—and a career. And I found both and more with Joe, as a Biden.”
She ended up with both a career and a marriage that has stood the test of time.
Jill Biden was born June 3, 1951 in Hammonton, New Jersey. Her parents’ names were Donald and Bonny Jacobs. Her dad was a bank teller and her mother was a homemaker. She has four sisters and is the eldest child.
4. Jill Biden Turned Down Joe Biden’s First Four Proposals
In the beginning, it wasn’t certain that Jill would marry Joe. Jill Biden wrote an article for Time Magazine in which she described the moment Joe Biden proposed to her – at least one the first time. He would try several more times before he got her to say yes.
“The first time Joe proposed, he simply said, ‘I want us to get married.'” she wrote. “It wasn’t a big deal — just an ordinary conversation on an ordinary day. I already knew how he felt, so it didn’t come as a surprise. I also knew I couldn’t say yes.”
Joe Biden had some powerful cheerleaders in his corner: His two sons with his tragic first wife. “But unbeknownst to me, Joe wasn’t just asking on his own accord. Beau and Hunter had recently cornered him in the bathroom one morning while he was shaving. ‘Beau thinks we should get married,'” Jill wrote. “‘We think we should marry Jill.'”
Joe Biden had to ask Jill five times to marry him. Why did she hesitate so much? According to Vogue, she was young (only 25), had been divorced already, and didn’t want to jump into anything fast because there were children involved. She was also at a point of her life where she was trying to get her teaching career off the ground.
“She was just starting her own career,” Biden wrote in his book. “I think it was easier for her in the beginning of our courtship when I wasn’t thinking about marriage. We both just liked having fun with somebody again, and she wanted to keep it that way.”
Eventually, he got sick of waiting and gave her what was essentially an ultimatum, saying, “Look, this is the last time I’m asking you. I don’t care when we get married. But I want a commitment,” Vogue reported. Realizing he was serious this time, she said yes.
5. Jill Says Her Favorite Title Is ‘Mom’
Jill has embraced motherhood with gusto, and she wrote recently on Instagram, “I’ve had many titles over the years, but my forever favorite is “Mom.” Beau and Hunt—the boys who made me their mother. And Ashley—the daughter who completed our family.”
“When I started dating Joe and the boys, and Joe asked me to marry him, I just knew Beau and Hunt had already lost one mother, and I had to make absolutely sure that our marriage would work,” she told USA Today, “I wanted to make sure they wouldn’t lose another mother because our marriage didn’t work.”
She has discussed how absolutely devastated she was when Beau died of brain cancer.
“It was totally shattering,” she told USA Today. “My life changed in an instant. All during his illness, I truly believed that he was going to live, up until the moment that he closed his eyes, and I just never gave up hope.”