The White House released a statement Saturday confirming thatÂ Joseph “Beau” Biden III, son of Vice President Joe Biden, has died at the age of 46.
“Beau Biden was, quite simply, the finest man any of us have ever known,” his father wrote in a statement.
Biden had suffered known health problems dating back to 2010, when he experienced a stroke that did not affect his motor skills or speech.
In 2013, Beau Biden was treated at M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston after he became disoriented and weak while on vacation. He was diagnosed with brain cancer, and after undergoing surgery was given a clean bill of health.
The cancer returned this spring and Biden pursued aggressive treatment at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland, the vice president’s office said. He died Saturday evening, surrounded by his extended family.
Aside from Vice President and Dr. Jill Biden, Beau Biden is survived by his wife, Hallie; two children, Natalie and Hunter; a brother, also named Hunter; and a half-sister, Ashley.
This death is especially heartbreaking because it is the second child Joe Biden has lost. The vice president’s 1-year-old daughter Naomi was killed in a Christmastime car accident in 1972. The crash also took the life of Joe Biden’s first wife, Neilia, who was Beau’s mother.
On Saturday, Vice President Biden said in his statement, “More than his professional accomplishments, Beau measured himself as a husband, father, son and brother. His absolute honor made him a role model for our family. Beau embodied my father’s saying that a parent knows success when his child turns out better than he did.”
President Obama, writing in a statement, quoted Irish poet William Butler Yeats — a favorite of the vice president’s — in honoring Beau Biden’s life.
Yeats wrote, “I have believed the best of every man. And find that to believe it is enough to make a bad man show him at his best or even a good man swing his lantern higher.”
“Beau Biden believed the best of us all,” Obama said. “For him, and for his family, we swing our lanterns higher.”