Brian McGlinchey met Beau Biden on the first day of 9th grade at Archmere Academy in 1983.
Biden was on crutches. McGlinchey helped him with his book bag.
So began a friendship that lasted decades, up until Biden died last Saturday of brain cancer. And although it was McGlinchey who extended that first kindness to Biden, it was Biden’s thoughtfulness that will stay with McGlinchey.
“He was just always considerate, very considerate of other people’s feelings,” McGlinchey says. “Even in high school.”
That sort of generosity helped Biden become class president at Archmere, his father’s alma mater. He was, McGlinchey remembers, an uncommonly approachable and steady young man, despite his famous family name. “Beau was always above the fray,” McGlinchey says. Yet at the same time, he never seemed distant or privileged.
“He was as principled as charismatic then as he was later in life,” McGlinchey says. “Beau never changed.”
The two connected over music–bands like the Grateful Dead, Elvis Costello, and U2. They also shared an irreverent sense of humor McGlinchey describes as “Monty Python-esque.”
McGlinchey went on to intern for then U.S. Senator Joe Biden in the 1990s before becoming the senator’s federal projects director in the early 2000s. Beau Biden continued on to law school and eventually politics.
The two never lost touch.
Recently, McGlinchey spent 29 days at Christiana Hospital with gastrointestinal issues. When Biden showed up unannounced one day to pay him a visit, the former attorney general was “more interested in lifting my spirits and more worried about my condition than his own.” That was classic Beau Biden, he says: thoughtful, giving, and utterly invested in others.
Among McGlinchey’s many memories of Biden, the one that stands out now seems unremarkable.
One day in high school, McGlinchey and Biden were driving in Wilmington when McGlinchey’s car blew a tire. As they pulled into a parking lot, McGlinchey confessed he didn’t know how to fix a flat. Biden razzed his friend, hopped out, and went right to work.
“He wasn’t privleged or unable to get his hands dirty,” McGlinchey recalls. “He rolled his sleeves right up there in the parking lot.”
Biden was the kind of person you could lean on, McGlinchey says–kind of like a crutch.
This week on FIRST, we talked with two other friends from Archmere, Margaret Aitken and Rob Buccini, to get their memories of Beau Biden. You can watch those interviews here.