Neilia Hunter

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Neilia Hunter Biden
Neilia Hunter

(1942-07-28)July 28, 1942
DiedDecember 18, 1972(1972-12-18) (aged 30)
Cause of deathTraffic collision
Resting placeGreenville, Delaware, U.S.
Other namesNeilia Hunter Biden
Alma materSyracuse University (M.A.)
Known forFirst wife of Joe Biden
Political partyDemocratic
(m. 1966)
ChildrenBeau · Hunter · Naomi
FamilyBiden family (by marriage)

Neilia Hunter Biden (July 28, 1942 – December 18, 1972) was an American educator and the first wife of Joe Biden. She died in a car accident in 1972 with her infant daughter, Naomi; her two biological sons, Beau and Hunter, were critically injured but survived.

Early life, education and marriage[edit]

Hunter was born on July 28, 1940, in Skaneateles, New York, to Louise (née Basel) and Robert Hunter.[1] She attended Penn Hall, a secondary boarding school in Pennsylvania. She was active in the school's French club, hockey, swimming, and student council.[2] After secondary school, she attended Syracuse University and was a school teacher in the Syracuse City School District.[1] She was related to former Auburn, New York city councilman Robert Hunter.[3] Hunter first met Joe Biden in Nassau, Bahamas, while Biden was on spring break.[4] Biden shortly after moved to Syracuse and attended law school. The couple married on August 27, 1966.[2] After the wedding, the Bidens moved to Wilmington, Delaware, where Biden was on the New Castle County Council.

They had three children: Joseph Robinette "Beau", Robert Hunter and Naomi.[5] Biden's future wife, Jill, met Hunter in late 1972 and said, "[Neilia Hunter] had an easy, natural beauty,"[6] Biden campaigned to unseat U.S. Senator from Delaware J. Caleb Boggs and Hunter was described as the “brains” of his campaign.[2]

Death and legacy[edit]

During the Christmas holiday, shortly after her husband became U.S. senator-elect, Neilia Hunter died along with their one-year-old daughter Naomi. On December 18, 1972, Neilia, along with her daughter Naomi and sons Beau and Hunter, were driving to buy a Christmas tree.[7] With her head turned, she pulled into traffic. Neilia's vehicle was struck in the right-of-way by a truck. Neilia and Naomi died, but her two sons, despite being seriously injured, survived the accident.[7][8] Biden later garnered controversy by making incorrect allegations that the truck’s driver, Curtis Dunn, was drunk at the time.[9][10] Biden was sworn in at the hospital where his sons were being treated.[2] In a commencement speech at Yale University in 2015, Joe Biden spoke of his late wife, saying, "Six weeks after my election, my whole world was altered forever. While I was in Washington hiring staff, I got a phone call. My wife and three children were Christmas shopping, a tractor trailer broadsided them and killed my wife and killed my daughter. And they weren't sure that my sons would live."[11] A park in Wilmington, Delaware, Neilia Hunter Biden Park, is dedicated in her memory.[12] In addition, Cayuga Community College in Auburn, where Neilia's father ran the food service operation for many years, annually confers the Neilia Hunter Biden Award on two graduates, one for journalism and one for English literature.[13] Among the early winners was William (Bill) Fulton, who later served as mayor of Ventura, California.


  1. ^ a b "Neilia Hunter to marry J. R. Biden". The News Journal. Wilmington, Del. March 29, 1966. Retrieved July 28, 2020.
  2. ^ a b c d "Joe Biden Was Married To His First Wife, Neilia Hunter, For Only 6 Years". Women's Health. May 13, 2020. Retrieved July 28, 2020.
  3. ^ Rocheleau, Kelly (April 1, 2020). "'A good, caring person': Former Auburn city councilor Robert Hunter remembered". Auburn Citizen. Auburn, New York. Retrieved July 28, 2020.
  4. ^ Osnos, Evan (July 28, 2014). "The Evolution of Joe Biden". The New Yorker. Retrieved July 28, 2020.
  5. ^ Sarika Jagtiani; Meredith Newman; Andrew Sharp (September 25, 1019). "Hunter Biden: A brief bio of former Vice President Joe Biden's son". The News Journal. Wilmington, Del. Retrieved July 28, 2020.
  6. ^ "Joe Biden's Capacity for Empathy Has Been Described as a "Superpower"". Marie Claire. July 30, 2019. Retrieved July 28, 2020.
  7. ^ a b McBride, Jessica (April 25, 2019). "How Did Joe Biden's First Wife, Neilia Hunter, Die?". Retrieved July 28, 2020.
  8. ^ Macon, Alexandra (November 17, 2016). "Joe and Jill Biden's Love Story Will Pull at Your Heartstrings". Vogue. Retrieved July 28, 2020.
  9. ^ Hamilton, Carl (October 30, 2008). "Daughter of man in '72 Biden crash seeks apology from widowed Senator". Newark Post.
  10. ^ Todd Huston, Warner (December 21, 2019). "Joe Biden Continues to Lie About Drunk Driver Killing His First Wife". The Washington Sentinel.
  11. ^ Lauren Holter (October 7, 2015). "What Happened To Joe Biden's First Wife, Neilia, And Daughter Naomi? It's A Heartbreaking Story". Bustle. Retrieved July 28, 2020.
  12. ^ "Neilia Hunter Biden Park". Foursquare City Guide. Retrieved July 28, 2020.
  13. ^ "The Joe Biden Auburn met 48 years ago". Auburn Pub. August 23, 2020.

External links[edit]