Jill Biden: Who was ‘Dr B’ before she met Joe Biden? Meet first FLOTUS-elect with full-time job in 231 years
Calling himself 'Jill's husband,' Joe Biden thanked his wise wife and said: 'I would not be here without her love and tireless support'
The news flashes. Fireworks! Joe Biden is declared the winner of the 2020 elections. The 46th US president-elect addressed a crowd of supporters on Saturday, November 7, night in his hometown of Wilmington. “The people of this nation have spoken. They’ve delivered us a convincing victory. A clear victory,” Biden said. “I pledge to be a president who seeks not to divide but to unify.”
Calling himself “Jill's husband,” Joe thanked his wise wife Jill Biden. “As I said many times before, I'm Jill's husband. And I would not be here without her love and tireless support.” Joe, 77, and Jill, 69, have been married for 43 years and their sweet love story is one for the ages. “He will be a President for all of our families,” Jill tweeted. In the picture, she wore a mask helping her hubby — who wore a hat — holding a sign that read: “Dr & Vice President Biden Live Here,” as she covered up the “Vice,” on the board. But who was the First Lady elect before she met Joe?
He will be a President for all of our families. pic.twitter.com/iGPKLMMIcK— Dr. Jill Biden (@DrBiden) November 7, 2020
Who is Jill Biden?
On hot summer nights in Willow Grove, Pennsylvania, she would sneak out of her house. Born on June 3, 1951, as Jill Tracy Jacobs in Hammonton, New Jersey, she spent most of her childhood in the northern suburb of Philadelphia. Along with her four younger sisters – Jan and Bonny and twins Kelly and Kim – she was raised by her father, Donald Carl Jacobs, who became president of a savings and loan; and her homemaker mother Bonny Jean (Godfrey) Jacobs of English and Scottish descent.
Dubbing themselves as “agnostic realists,” her parents did not attend church, but she often went to a Presbyterian church with her grandmother. At the age of 15, she started waitressing in Ocean City on the Jersey Shore. “I wanted my own money, my own identity, my own career,” she confessed. Enjoying a rebellious life, she attended Upper Moreland High School and was fond of her English class.
Jilly from Philly
An Inquirer article sketches out how her classmates started a “Philly for Jilly” fan club, including some Upper Moreland High School alumni, to help the Biden campaign later. “I was kind of rebellious,” Jill said. “I loved to pull pranks and I would sneak out of school and run-up to the hoagie shop that was on the corner, those kind of things — innocent things.”
One time, she tackled a neighborhood bully who had been terrorizing her younger sister by knocking on his door and punching him in the face. Her dad dubbed her “atta girl” for that one. “My parents truly gave me a gift, in that we were raised... in a household where there was just so much love and support,” she added. “They made us feel so safe and secure and I really think that had an influence on my life... They really grounded me in who I was and gave me confidence.”
Early love and marriages
Jill attended Brandywine Junior College in Pennsylvania for one semester to study fashion merchandising but soon lost interest. She then transferred to the University of Delaware and married Bill Stevenson, a former college football player, in February 1970 when she was 18. He opened the Stone Balloon in Newark, Delaware, which became one of the most successful college bars in the nation as local bands and popular musical artistes including Bruce Springsteen, Chubby Checker and Tiny Tim performed.
Five years later, the two decided to go their separate ways. At the time, she worried she would never find the love her parents had. “I let go of fairy-tale endings,” she wrote. In March 1975, love knocked on her door again when she met Joe Biden on their first date — in Philadelphia. She was 24 by that time and Biden was a freshman senator, whose wife and daughter had been killed in a car accident two years earlier. They went to see a movie, then to dinner, where conversation flowed better than she expected. “It was kind of a blind date that we went out on and I didn’t think I’d really — I thought, ‘OK, I’ll go out with him once and that’ll be it,’” she recalled. “I just didn’t think he would appeal to me.” It took two years and five proposals for Joe to convince her and then the two got married as she became his wife and mother of two for Biden’s sons, Hunter and Beau.
Career and social activism
From 1993 through 2008, Jill taught English composition at the Stanton/Wilmington campus of Delaware Technical & Community College. She said, “I feel like I can make a greater difference in their lives. I just love that population. It just feels really comfortable to me. I love the women who are coming back to school and getting their degrees because they're so focused.” At 55, she received a Doctor of Education (EdD) in educational leadership from the University of Delaware. The president of the Biden Breast Health Initiative, a non-profit organization begun in 1993 and the founder of Book Buddies in 2007, she has taken a keen interest in social causes. She is also active in Delaware Boots on the Ground, an organization that supports military families. Did you know she also ran in Marine Corps Marathon as well as the Philadelphia Half Marathon?
'You've got to change this!'
Interestingly, Jill opposed the idea of her husband running in the 2004 presidential election. At one strategy meeting, she entered in a swimsuit with the word “NO” inscribed on her belly. She changed her mind after George W Bush's re-election in 2004 and urged him to run for president again. “I literally wore black for a week. I just could not believe that he won, because I felt that things were already so bad. I was so against the Iraq War. And I said to Joe, 'You've got to change this, you have to change this,'” she said.
Once Joe was the running mate to Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama, she wore a Blue Star Mothers Club pin in recognition of Beau Biden's deployment to Iraq and made several joint appearances with Michelle Obama. While her husband was running for vice-president, she continued to teach four days a week at Delaware Technical & Community College during the fall 2008 semester and then campaigned over the long weekend.
Second Lady of the United States
Biden has said she hated the term second lady — preferring captain of the vice squad. At a virtual campaign fund-raiser in September, she told several spouses of elected officials: “You are leaders in your states, advisers, advocates, friends, confidants. And so much more than ‘lovely wives.’ Didn’t you just hate it when people called us that?” “She wanted to not be identified as being someone’s wife,” Mary Doody who interviewed Jill when she applied to work at Delaware Technical Community College in the early 1990s said. “She’s ‘Dr B’... And I think that’s just so important to her. She says all the time, ‘Teaching is who I am.’”
As Delaware Senator and top Biden supporter Chris Coons put it: “Jill is someone who has a big heart. She’s a tough Philly girl, but she’s also gracious. To be blunt, one of the ways... I gauge my colleagues are their spouses, and particularly with men... I am closest to and most admire senators whose spouses are strong-willed, capable, independent people.” On the campaign trail, Biden was energetic one of her husband’s closest confidantes, helping him and often pulling him back if he was too close to people during the Covid-19.
First Lady-designate of the United States
Expected to succeed Melania Trump, Jill Biden would be the first FLOTUS with a full-time job in 231 years. She told CBS in August it's “important” to continue teaching. “I want people to value teachers and know their contributions, and lift up the profession,” she said.
Historian Katherine Jellison, a professor at Ohio University who studies first ladies, told CBS News on Saturday that Dr Biden would be the only first lady to hold a paid job and first to have a doctorate degree. “I teach a lot of immigrants, and refugees,” she said. “I love their stories, I love who they are as people, and I love the fact that I can help them on their path to success.” When asked if Americans will see “unconventional things” from her as the first lady, Jill responded, “I hope so.”