Beau, in his hospital bed in the foreground, was 3 – and recovering from injuries in the Christmas time car crash that killed his mother and baby sister – when his father Joe Biden (center) was sworn into the U.S. Senate on Jan. 5, 1973. "My life collapsed into their needs," Biden wrote of refusing to leave Beau and his injured little brother, Hunter, 2, to go to Washington, D.C. Biden's grieving father-in-law, Robert Hunter, held the Bible.
By the time Joe Biden was sworn in for his third term as U.S. Senator from Delaware, on Jan. 3, 1985, he had remarried and had a daughter. From left, wife Jill, Beau, President George Bush, Hunter, Biden and daughter Ashley.
Beau and his wife Hallie, a school counselor, brought son Hunter and daughter Natalie to vote in the Nov. 7, 2006, election that made Beau Delaware's attorney general. In office, he passionately pursued cases against child abusers. After his death, his family established The Beau Biden Foundation for the Protection of Children to keep his work on behalf of powerless children going.
In his speech introducing his father at the 2008 Democratic National Convention, where Joe Biden formally won the vice presidential nomination, Beau remembered his father's devotion after his mother and sister were killed: "As a single parent, he decided to be there to put us to bed, to be there when we woke from a bad dream, to make us breakfast, so he'd travel to and from Washington, four hours a day."
Jay Leno asked Beau, during his Sept. 16, 2008, appearance on The Tonight Show, if he would follow in his father's footsteps and run for the U.S. Senate. "I'm going to sound like a politician here, but I mean this from the bottom of my heart," Beau replied. "My life experience is such that any time I look beyond two, three months – a couple of years – life intervenes and has a different plan for me."
After Biden was sworn is as President Obama's vice president on Jan. 20, 2009 (with, from left, Jill, Ashley, Hunter and Beau), "a lot of people assumed Beau was going to slide into his father's Senate seat," recalls Biden's former press secretary, Margaret Aitken, who was also Beau's childhood friend. "But he still had work to do on children's issues as Attorney General."
"The Vice President (with his son in the colonnade outside the Oval Office Jan. 17, 2013) looked to Beau for advice constantly and always called him when he had a decision to make," recalls Ron Klain, who served as Biden's chief of staff in the White House.
Beau, Hallie, Natalie and Hunter, on an August 2014 family vacation in Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming. Earlier that year, Beau announced he would forego seeking a third term as attorney general in order to focus on running for Delaware governor in 2016. In late May, he died at the age of 46 after battling brain cancer.