Jill Biden makes low-key stop in Beaverton
Jill Biden says she now knows what her students have endured as she promotes her book about being an educator – and wife of Joe Biden, the former vice president and current Democratic presidential candidate.
Biden made a daylong stop in Portland on Monday, May 20, and spoke about "Where the Light Enters: Building a Family, Discovering Myself," to about 100 people gathered at Powell's Cedar Hills Crossing in Beaverton.
Biden, who turns 68 on June 3, taught English in high school for 13 years — she took two years off to raise her family — and has taught English and writing at the community college level since 1993. Since 2009 she has taught at the Alexandria campus of Northern Virginia Community College.
"It is a little surreal to talk about the book because it is so personal," she said in Beaverton. "But they (students) loved that I was going through the same things they did" while writing their assignments.
Biden took no questions but read two short excerpts from the book and talked a little about her life with Joe Biden. Her book is not political, and she did not talk about politics, other than to acknowledge indirectly that her life will change again if he is elected president in 2020.
They both grew up in Pennsylvania, Joe Biden in Scranton and Jill (Jacobs) Biden in Willow Grove, outside Philadelphia. Both ended up in Delaware.
When they married in June 1977, it was the second time for both. Jill Biden divorced her first husband in 1976. Joe Biden lost his first wife, Neilia, and 1-year-old daughter Naomi, in a car crash in December 1972. His sons, Beau and Hunter, were injured but survived. Biden considered resigning from the U.S. Senate, to which he had just been elected, but was talked out of it.
They have a daughter, Ashley.
Jill Biden said there are parallels with Theodore Roosevelt, whose first wife, Alice, died in 1884 while giving birth to daughter Alice. He married Edith Kermit in 1886, they had five children of their own, and she became first lady when he was president from 1901 to 1909.
"I never thought I would marry a U.S. senator and become second lady," Jill Biden said.
When they married, she recalled, Joe Biden told her: "Your life will never change," which drew laughter from the audience.
A few years later, Jill Biden got a taste of change when Beau nagged her about doing laundry more often. She was one of five girls in her family.
"I had no experience with boys — and Hunter and Beau were sweaty, messy boys," she said with a laugh.
She took two years off from teaching to raise Beau, Hunter and Ashley, but Jill Biden resumed working. She spent 15 years teaching at the Stanton/Wilmington campus of Delaware Technical and Community College. When Joe Biden became vice president in 2009, she began her current teaching position — and stayed there after her husband left office in 2017.
Joe Biden talked about his own book, "Promise Me, Dad," an account of his life as vice president intertwined with his son Beau's struggle with cancer, at an appearance in November 2017 in Portland. Beau died May 30, 2015.
Despite Beau's urging, Joe Biden decided against a bid for president in 2016.
Jill Biden said on the anniversary of the deaths of Joe Biden's first wife and infant daughter, Joe Biden and his sons would pause to remember them — but it had been her practice to leave them alone.
But after Beau's death, she said, "I joined the rest of the family" at the observances on Dec. 18 of every year.
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