In an interview for an article, Joseph Robinette Biden detailed the untold history of the Biden family, which shows that Biden, Sr. possessed a large amount of money at one point, but he lost it all for reasons that were largely unknown.
Joseph Robinette Biden, Jr.’s the younger son of the current President detailed his childhood in Wilmington, Delaware for a magazine in 2019 about Hunter Biden . Hunter recalled how after church, his father would occasionally take him and his brother, Beau, through wealthy neighborhoods where they would sneak onto empty estates that were either abandoned or for sale. The boys’ father would sling them through a second-floor window if the front door was locked, and they would rush downstairs to let him in. Biden, who was then a senator, would successfully charm any real estate agent who showed up while they were there into giving them a tour.
Hunter claimed to have been middle class, but his family actually resided on their own estate, in a 10,000 square foot mansion with a ballroom. (His father, who was on a tight budget, would drywall over wide spaces to save down on heating bills.) In his 2007 autobiography, “Promises to Keep,” Biden stated, “Even as a kid in high school I’d been seduced by real estate.” For someone who wanted to be recognised as Middle-Class Joe, the fixation appeared abnormal and almost self-defeating.
His ability to relate to Americans from the middle class and working class is one of Biden’s strengths as a politician. He frequently highlights his humble beginnings in speeches. He stated in his 2022 State of the Union address that he “grew up in a family where, if the price of food went up, you felt it.” “I remember when my dad had to leave our home in Scranton, Pennsylvania, to find work.” However, the accounts I heard about Joseph Robinette Biden, Sr., the elder, painted a different picture. But according to Jimmy Biden, one of the President’s younger brothers, his father’s idea of casual attire was a sport coat and an ascot when his son was elected to the Senate in 1972, when he was employed at a car dealership.
Opening a wardrobe, Biden described discovering his father’s polo mallet, riding breeches, riding boots, and hunting pinks—items that reflected a former life of privilege. Biden, Sr. possessed a large amount of money at one point, but he lost it all for reasons that were largely unknown. Biden writes, “I never asked him much about his life, and he didn’t offer.
The family has a horrible history with alcohol on top of their tumultuous relationship with class. Hunter has struggled with alcohol and drug problems, and his dubious business transactions have been used as weapons by his father’s political adversaries. Republicans intend to schedule additional Hunter-specific hearings if they take control of the House of Representatives in November.
The President views alcoholism as a form of family curse. He decided against drinking because he was raised by heavy drinkers. Although all of them eventually started drinking—some in moderation, some to the point of addiction—he also advised his brothers and, later, his children not to.
There isn’t a lot of information available on Joe Biden, Sr., or the Biden family’s past. Richard Ben Cramer’s 1992 book “What It Takes,” a comprehensive, character-driven chronicle of the 1988 Presidential campaign, contains the first and most in-depth research of the subject. However, since Biden, Sr. refused to talk to Cramer, the journalist was primarily dependent on his conversations with Jimmy Biden, who shared family story he had overheard, and with Jean Biden, the President’s mother. Many of the stories from Cramer’s book were reproduced in Joe Biden’s book “Promises to Keep,” oftentimes virtually identically and with comparable gaps.
Biden’s parents are no longer alive, and the President refused to comment. Beyond what was already known, his siblings didn’t have much to say about the family’s past. The President’s sister Valerie remarked that her father “wasn’t a big talker.” When questioned why their father hadn’t been more honest, Jimmy responded, “I think it’s akin to somebody who served in World War Two or Korea, and then came back and saw the atrocities. He was embarrassed.”
Cramer and Biden said that Biden, Sr. had a close relationship with Bill Sheen, Jr., a relative on his mother’s side of the family who is mentioned in both books.
Sheene III’s ex-wife Trudy and their daughter Amy periodically ran into Biden in the Wilmington region after he was elected to the Senate in 1972. She recounted, “I’d say, ‘Joe, it’s Trudy. “He’d say, ‘Yeah, I know who you are.’ And that would be it, sort of. There was no warmth at all.” The Bidens disowned the Sheenes, she continued.
The Sheenes battled alcoholism through the generations, just like the Bidens did. Sheene Jr.’s daughter Mary Jane, who was also Biden Sr.,’s goddaughter, drank herself to death. Sheene III also struggled with alcohol for a while, but he stopped after getting into a fight while drunk at a family wedding. Sheene III once ran a somewhat successful construction company. He called Biden’s office and left a message with a staff member requesting his cousin to call him back when a legal issue with a larger company threatened to put him out of operation. Sheene III called Biden for assistance, but Biden never picked up. “I had a lot of respect for Joe,” he told me. “I didn’t hate him.” Although, he added, “I didn’t care for his politics, because I thought he was a wimp, and I still do.”
It’s likely that Biden was unaware of the details of Sheene, Sr.,s passing. Like a game of telephone, family stories are passed down from one generation to the next. The story is refined over time: heroes are created, embarrassing aspects are removed, and fables are turned into facts and history. In his autobiography, Biden claimed that his uncle Bosie had been “shot down.” (Valerie’s autobiography used a similar expression.) However, another man who was on aboard at the time and is the only survivor of the crash claims that the plane lost its way, ran out of fuel, and plunged into the sea. The President’s uncle died in a tragic accident, not in combat.
Other people have been cut out of the story entirely. While Arthur Briscoe was left out of “Promises to Keep,” Biden was certainly aware of him because in 1978, when Briscoe attended one of the senator’s events, Biden signed a photo for him and wrote, “To Dad’s old friend Arthur. With best wishes . The Sheenes also saw that their last name had been misspelt, which they felt had been done intentionally. Sheene III informed me, “That really pissed me off.” When asked about the possibility that the President might not be aware with the proper spelling. Sheene III said, “No,” pointing out that Alice had essentially lived with the Bidens for 17 years. Amy agreed. “It has to be intentional,” she said. “For the families to be so close like that, how can you not know how to spell the name?”
Sheene III stopped returning calls last fall, and an ambulance took him to the hospital, where a tumour on his pancreas was discovered. Instead of receiving treatment, he returned home and awaited the end of his life. “I used to stop and think a lot, What in the world ever happened to all the money? And there was never anybody to explain it to me,” Sheene III remarked. In his last conversation on January 12, 2022 he said “I have found out more through you than anybody else .” He passed away five days later. “I’m so glad Bill died of pancreatic cancer and not alcoholism,” Trudy exclaimed. I feel like the chain was broken.”
The Robinette family cemetery in Loudon Park Cemetery is where Sheene III was supposed to be laid to rest. But Amy opted to make less expensive arrangements after learning that interring his ashes there would cost more than $35,000. On June 6th, Amy and Trudy travelled to the cemetery in Amy’s black SUV, where Trudy transferred some of Sheene III’s cremated remains into a ziplock bag using a measuring cup. To go to the Robinette plot, the women carried the sack. The tomb of Joseph Harry and Mary Biden was in good condition, but Sheene, Jr.’s marker had a large hole underneath it that appeared to have been made by a rodent.
“Do you think there are cameras around here?” Amy asked, wondering whether the impromptu ceremony might violate the cemetery’s rules.
“Well, that’s what you get for charging thirty-five hundred dollars,” Trudy replied.
“I’m just going to put it down the hole,” Amy said.
“Oh, God, if that thing comes running out,” Trudy said.
Amy started to pour the ashes out. She said, “Be with your dad, Dad.” Trudy then recited a little poem, and the women walked back to the car. Trudy mused aloud as to whether the Bidens were aware of Sheene III’s death.
Amy gave a shrug. She continued, “They ended up in the White House. “We ended up in the trailer park.”