Ideas
June 2, 2015 10:56 AM EDT
Ted Kaufman, a former U.S. Senator from Delaware, served 22 years on Joe Biden’s staff.

Beau Biden was special right from the beginning. I met him in 1973, a year after the accident that killed his mother and younger sister, when he was 4. His father, Joe Biden, had just been elected to the U.S. Senate and asked me to spend a year helping him set up his office. I stayed for 22 years.

As a kid, Beau always went by the rules and was incapable of doing bad things. He was really extraordinary. He was genuinely a good person who had good values. He was a natural leader, very smart, articulate, and an accomplished speaker and writer. But he also had this inner drive to never cut corners.

When Beau announced he was running for attorney general of Delaware, a member of the Delaware Supreme Court who had children who had gone to school with Beau, introduced him. He said that they used to call Beau “the Sheriff,” and that when his kids were with Beau, he was never worried about them getting into trouble. Even then, Beau always did the right thing.

Beau was like his father: His priorities were based on the idea of protecting the powerless from the powerful. When he graduated from law school, he went to work for the Justice Department and became involved in tracking child predators. His concern for protecting children was one of the driving forces in his decision to run to be Delaware’s attorney general. Once elected, he set up the Child Predator Task Force, which has convicted more than 200 predators.

During the mortgage crisis, Beau helped those homeowners who had been mistreated by the banks. He was a champion for all Delaware consumers. Delaware received millions in settlements from financial institutions.

He worked closely with law enforcement to go into communities to help catch and convict criminals and protect those who needed help the most.

Beau joined the Delaware National Guard in 2003. It was his response to 9/11. He wanted to do his part to help prevent something like that tragedy from ever happening again. Once he had focused on what was the right thing to do, he was going to do it. He continued to devote time to the National Guard even after he was elected to be the Delaware attorney general in 2006, and in 2008, he deployed to Iraq for a year

When Beau came back from Iraq, many people urged him to run for his father’s U.S. Senate seat, but he refused. He felt he had to finish out his term, and he did. He was re-elected attorney general in 2010 by a huge margin. In 2014, he declined to run for re-election because he knew that he planned to run for governor in 2016.

Beau’s actions were not those of most folks involved in politics. He broke a lot of the rules of how you advance your career. He never took the easy road. He would not allow things to be given to him; he wanted to earn them.

Beau had an unlimited future ahead of him. He was a wonderful person, and a great friend. His passing has left a hole in many lives, including mine.

Contact us at letters@time.com.

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