Sandra Day O’Connor, the first woman to sit on the Supreme Court of the United States, shared her remarkable journey with a steadfast companion, her husband, John Jay O’Connor III.
Born on July 10, 1930, John Jay O’Connor played a significant role in supporting his wife’s illustrious career in law and public service. The love story between Sandra and John Jay began at Stanford Law School, where they both served as law review editors.
Their shared passion for the law blossomed into a lifelong partnership, leading to their marriage in 1952. Following law school, John O’Connor served in the U.S. Army Judge Advocate General’s Corps, showcasing his commitment to justice and public service from the outset.
Upon returning to the United States, the O’Connors settled in Phoenix, Arizona, where John joined the esteemed law firm of Fennemore, Craig, von Ammon, McClennen & Udall. As Sandra’s career soared, culminating in her historic appointment to the Supreme Court by President Ronald Reagan in 1981, John stood by her side.
The couple relocated to Washington, D.C., where John continued his legal practice, working with prestigious firms such as Miller & Chevalier and Bryan Cave.
Tragically, John O’Connor faced a long battle with Alzheimer’s disease, a diagnosis he received nearly two decades before his passing. His declining health played a pivotal role in Sandra Day O’Connor’s decision to retire from the Supreme Court in 2005, as she prioritized caring for her ailing husband.
John Jay O’Connor III passed away on November 11, 2009, in Phoenix, Arizona, succumbing to the ravages of Alzheimer’s disease at the age of 79. His legacy lives on through the enduring impact of his wife’s groundbreaking career and their shared commitment to the principles of justice and equality.