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Joe Biden's former chief of staff talks Beau's 'extraordinary' character

by Scott Stump /  / Updated  / Source: TODAY

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A former chief of staff for Vice President Joe Biden remembered his son Beau, who died at 46 on Saturday from brain cancer, for his "extraordinary character," as well as his humility and public service.

"It's a horrible tragedy, and it's hit everyone in the family very, very hard, but I know that all of them wanted to be focused right now not on their loss, but on Beau's extraordinary life and the amazing things that he accomplished in his 46 years here and the kind of person he was,'' Ron Klain told Savannah Guthrie on TODAY Monday. "I certainly agree with the vice president when he said he was the finest man any of us have known."

A former Delaware attorney general and member of the Delaware National Guard who was awarded a Bronze Star for his service in Iraq in 2008 and 2009, Beau was diagnosed with brain cancer in August 2013. He underwent surgery and chemotherapy treatment before suffering a recurrence of the cancer this spring. Klain remembered his humility despite growing up in the spotlight of a congressman.

"Beau grew up as the son of a senator, but you would have never known that,'' he said. "He was completely down to earth and really dedicated, of course first to his family, but to public service as well."

Beau was the acting attorney general in Delaware when he went to serve in Iraq, and he later refused a bid to run for his father's seat in the U.S. senate to handle his obligations as attorney general.

"Beau was in the middle of prosecuting one of the largest child abuse cases in American history and felt that his duty to see that case through to the end was more important than his personal ambition,'' Klain said. "That kind of character is just extraordinary, and that's the kind of person Beau was."

Joe Biden has cancelled all his events on Monday and is mourning his son's loss with his family.

"The entire Biden family is saddened beyond words. We know that Beau's spirit will live on in all of us — especially through his brave wife, Hallie, and two remarkable children, Natalie and Hunter," Joe Biden said in a statement Saturday. "Beau embodied my father's saying that a parent knows success when his child turns out better than he did. In the words of the Biden family: Beau Biden was, quite simply, the finest man any of us have ever known."

"Like his dad, Beau was a good, big-hearted, devoutly Catholic and deeply faithful man, who made a difference in the lives of all he touched — and he lives on in their hearts," President Barack Obama said in a statement.

Follow TODAY.com writer Scott Stump on Twitter and Google+.

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