Six weeks after he was elected a senator of Delaware in 1972, Joe Biden got a devastating phone call: His wife and college sweetheart, Neilia Hunter Biden, had been killed when a tractor-trailer crashed into the station wagon she was driving with their three children.
Daughter Naomi, 1, was also killed, while sons Beau, 4, and Hunter, 3, were badly injured and would be in the hospital for months. (Joe Biden would famously be sworn in at Beau's hospital bedside.)
At 30, he became a single parent to his sons, taking the train home from Washington to Wilmington every night, until meeting Jill Biden (née Jacobs, then a college student at the University of Delaware) three years later.
The couple became serious very quickly, with Jill Biden taking Joe Biden's sons under her wing right away. When Joe Biden worked late, she would go over to make dinner and keep them company.
But despite her love for Joe Biden and his children, she would turn down his marriage proposals five times, she said. Recently split from first husband Bill Stevenson, she was wary of marriage generally. Jill Biden also wanted her own career and feared losing herself to the role of a political spouse.
To each proposal, she said, 'Not yet. Not yet. Not yet.' Because by that time, she had fallen in love with the boys, and she really felt that this marriage had to work. Because they had lost their mom, and she couldn't have them lose another mother, so she had to be 100 percent sure.
In 1977, the couple married — even taking the boys on their honeymoon — and in 1981 they welcomed daughter Ashley Biden together. Together they rallied around their family and faith, and the entire Biden family emerged stronger and more bonded than ever.
As time passed and the Bidens healed from their grief, Joe Biden decided to pursue the presidency once again, in 2020. Jill Biden was along for the ride, battling for her husband — once quite literally, when she fiercely blocked a protestor from approaching him onstage during the early days of race.