Skip to comments.John O'Connor, husband of Supreme Court justice, dies at 79
Posted on 11/11/2009 2:57:00 PM PST by Thebaddog
John J. O'Connor III, 79, an Arizona lawyer and civic leader who became active in Washington's social and charitable circles after his wife, Sandra Day O'Connor, became the first woman appointed to the U.S. Supreme Court, died Nov. 11 in Phoenix. He had Alzheimer's disease.
As a lawyer, Mr. O'Connor specialized in business and real estate law and commercial litigation. He represented leading companies in industries including mining, manufacturing, real estate and financial services.
He was a partner at one of Phoenix's largest firms, Fennemore, Craig, von Ammon & Udall, before moving to Washington when his wife was confirmed to the high court in 1981. He continued to practice law with the firms Miller & Chevalier and Bryan Cave, all the while maintaining a low public profile.
He declined to talk about his rare role as the man behind one of the country's most powerful women. "I've just decided to refrain from publicly commenting on the subject unless I want to spend the rest of my life being interviewed," he told the New York Times in 1981. "It's a significant office that my wife holds, and I think it is something different from other offices. In my judgment, it is not something I should get into."
His degenerative condition was diagnosed nearly two decades ago but worsened considerably by the early 2000s, reportedly prompting his wife's retirement from her lifetime appointment in 2006.
Sandra Day O'Connor spoke about the demands of caring for someone with Alzheimer's, including unexpected, sometimes bittersweet developments as her husband began to lose his ability to recognize his family. He formed romantic attachments with other patients at an assisted-care center in Arizona, and this transformed him, the former justice said, from someone who had been depressed and introverted into a much happier person.
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Yes . .indeed.
>> Time and life goes on. I remember that she retired to be with him. God Bless them.
Alzheimer’s sucks — for the caregiver as well as for the sufferer.
It takes courage and commitment to your spouse or loved one to do what Ms. O’Conner did.
I’m not a big fan of her later years on the SC, but I have nothing but respect for her in this role. May God bless her and may Mr. O’Conner find eternal rest and peace.
She retired to be with him, but then she didn’t stay home. I think she wanted to be reappointed.