President Joe Biden has two younger brothers, James and Francis Biden
Joe Biden comes from a large but tight-knit family.
Joseph Robinette Biden Jr. is the oldest of four children born to Joseph Biden Sr. and Catherine Eugenia “Jean” Finnegan Biden. Joe was born first on Nov. 20, 1942, followed by his sister, Valerie, in 1945, and brothers, James in 1949 and Francis "Frank" in 1953. Despite the large age gap between Joe and his brothers (seven and 11 years, respectively), the siblings grew up extremely close and remain so today.
“It all comes from my mom and dad,” Valerie once told PEOPLE about their strong bond. “... They told us, honest to God, from the beginning, that we were a gift to one another. There was nothing closer than brothers and sisters.”
That closeness has helped the Bidens navigate difficult times — including the car crash deaths of Joe’s first wife, Neilia, and infant daughter, Naomi, and the death of Joe’s son, Beau, to brain cancer — and celebrate successes, such as Joe’s presidential victory in 2020.
Although Joe currently holds one of the most powerful offices in the world, to his siblings, he is still just their big brother.
“I think that your role, your place in the family or the right of primogeniture, I don’t think it ever changes,” Valerie told PEOPLE. “Joe’s the eldest, I’m the only, Jimmy’s the joker, Frankie’s the baby. We could be 100 years old, and when we get together, we inevitably fall into the same slots.”
From their childhood beginnings to their careers, here is everything to know about Joe Biden’s younger brothers, Jim Biden and Frank Biden.
They grew up in Delaware
Though Joe often speaks of his childhood in Scranton, Pennsylvania, the Biden brothers spent the bulk of their youth in Delaware after their father — following a few failed business ventures — got a job as a used car salesman in Wilmington in 1953.
The family moved into an apartment in Claymont, Delaware, where they spent a few years before moving to a modest split-level home in Wilmington, The New York Times reported. The Biden family stayed in that home until the four children were grown.
Joe, Jim and Frank also all attended the University of Delaware. Joe graduated from the university in 1965, while Frank was a student there in the 1970s at the same time as Joe’s future wife, Dr. Jill Biden.
They helped Joe launch his political career
In 1972, Joe ran for the U.S. Senate in Delaware. His chance at nabbing the Senate seat was considered a long shot: Joe was a 29-year-old attorney whose only political experience was serving one term on the New Castle, Delaware, city council. Meanwhile, his opponent, 63-year-old J. Caleb Boggs, was a popular Republican who had already served two terms as governor and two terms in the Senate. A poll three months before election day projected Joe to win less than 20% of the vote, according to The New York Times.
But Joe enlisted the help of his family to take on the incumbent. Valerie was the campaign manager, Jim was in charge of fundraising and Frank coordinated student volunteers, The Washington Post reported.
“We knew Joey could win, so everyone in the family worked seventeen hours a day for eighteen months to make sure he did,” Valerie told The Washingtonian in 1974. “It was really a family operation.”
Professional campaign consultants advised against Joe having his family run his campaign, The Washingtonian reported, suggesting he would be more successful if he ditched his “family man” image. However, Joe was adamant.
“I am a family man, and I’d rather lose with my family than win without them,” he said, according to The Washingtonian.
But Joe didn’t lose with his family; he won the U.S. Senate seat — with his family’s help — by just over 3,000 votes.
They helped Joe cope with the loss of his first wife and daughter
Tragedy struck Joe’s family on Dec. 18, 1972, just weeks after he was elected to the U.S. Senate. His first wife, Neilia, and their three children, Beau, Hunter and Naomi, were traveling in their family station wagon when it collided with a tractor-trailer. Neilia and Naomi, who was just 13 months old at the time, were both killed in the accident. Beau and Hunter, who were 4 and 3 at the time, also sustained injuries — but survived.
“By the tone of the phone call, you just knew,” Joe said in 2012 about the crash while addressing the families of fallen U.S. soldiers. “You just felt it in your bones: Something bad happened.”
Helping guide Joe through the devastating events, though, was his younger brother Jim. According to The Washington Post, Jim identified Neilia and Naomi’s bodies following the crash and broke the news to his older brother and Neilia’s parents that they had died.
Jim’s support did not stop there, however. Following Neilia and Naomi’s deaths, he converted a garage loft outside Joe’s house into an apartment and moved in to help Joe raise Hunter and Beau. Jim also traveled with his brother on congressional trips.
“I became basically a Senate wife for the first year,” Jim said, per The Washington Post.
But, according to Joe, he would not have survived the loss of his wife and young daughter without the crucial support of Jim and the rest of the Biden family.
“I had an overwhelming advantage in the loss,” Joe said on a July 2023 episode of the On Purpose With Jay Shetty podcast. “I had a really close family that was there ... They were there for me.”
Frank introduced Joe to his now-wife, Jill Biden
Joe was not the first member of the Biden family to meet Jill, as she crossed paths with his younger brother, Frank, first when they were both students at the University of Delaware.
“I met a gregarious young guy from Wilmington, a student named Frank,” she wrote in her 2019 memoir Where the Light Enters. “He and I would say hi to each other, occasionally stopping to chat. It wasn’t until much later that I took note of his last name: Biden. Frank Biden.”
Joe first noticed Jill when he saw her photo in an advertisement in the Wilmington airport. (She appeared in an ad campaign for the New Castle County Parks and Recreation as a favor to a friend.) According to Jill’s memoir, he told his brother, Frank, who was picking him up from the airport, that was the type of girl he’d like to date.
“And Frank said, ‘Well, why don’t you, then? I know her,’ ” Jill recalled in Where the Light Enters. “Frankie got my number from one of our mutual friends, and Joe called the next day.”
Frank has also worked in politics, like his big brother
At one point in his career, Frank followed in his big brother’s footsteps and attempted a political career. During Bill Clinton’s first term as president, Frank served as the director of congressional, legislative and public affairs at the Government Printing Office (now known as the Government Publishing Office), according to The Washington Post.
The Government Publishing Office is a government agency responsible for publishing and distributing “official government publications to Congress, federal agencies, federal depository libraries, and the public.” Frank defended his role there to The Wilmington News in 1996, per the Daily Mail, insisting that it had no overlap with his older brother’s duties in the Senate.
Frank also stated that Joe had no involvement in him getting the job, the Daily Mail reported. Instead, he said a friend had alerted him to the position, which he held from 1993 to 1997.
“People have a natural tendency to be kind to someone who is related to someone they admire,” Frank told The Wilmington News.
Jim has a close relationship with Joe’s son, Hunter
Jim and his nephew, Joe’s younger son, Hunter, have had a close relationship since Hunter was a child. After Joe’s wife and young toddler died, Jim moved into Joe’s garage apartment to help with the boys — and has been helping ever since.
Joe recalled a particular incident when Jim came to help Hunter move into an apartment in New Haven, Connecticut, while he attended law school. When Jim realized the apartment needed a fresh coat of paint, he took action for his nephew.
“My brother Jimmy, who fixes everything — my brother Jimmy was with us, and we went down and bought about 28 gallons of paint,” the president said during a talk in Connecticut, according to The Washington Post. “For real. It was hot as hell.”
Their tight bond has continued through adulthood, with the pair working professionally together. In 2006, Jim and Hunter purchased an international hedge fund called Paradigm Global Advisors. However, the uncle and nephew shut down the fund in 2010 after the global recession cut into their revenues, Politico reported.
The failed business venture didn’t impact their relationship. On several occasions, Hunter referred to his uncle as his best friend.
“Look, my uncle is the most amazing man, one of the most amazing people I know,” Hunter said on Marc Maron’s WTF podcast, per The Washington Post. “Yeah. He is literally there for everyone. He’s my, he’s my best friend in the world, my Uncle Jim. I mean, he’s an incredible human being in his own right.”
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