sandra day'oconnor diane cooley
Diane Cooley (second from left) joins Sandra Day O'Connor for a musical stroll at the Santa Cruz County Fairgrounds in 2006. File photo by Tarmo Hannula/The Pajaronian

Sandra Day O’Connor, the retired Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States, died Friday morning in Phoenix, Ariz. of complications related to advanced dementia and a respiratory illness. She was 93. 

O’Connor, who was a close friend of the late Diane Porter Cooley of Watsonville, was appointed to the court by President Ronald Reagan in 1981 and retired in 2006, after serving more than 24 years on the court. She was the first female member of the court.

“A daughter of the American Southwest, Sandra Day O’Connor blazed an historic trail as our nation’s first female Justice,” Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. said. “She met that challenge with undaunted determination, indisputable ability and engaging candor. We at the Supreme Court mourn the loss of a beloved colleague, a fiercely independent defender of the rule of law, and an eloquent advocate for civics education. And we celebrate her enduring legacy as a true public servant and patriot.”

O’Connor was born in El Paso, Texas on March 26, 1930. She married John Jay O’Connor III in 1952.

She is survived by her three sons, Scott (Joanie) O’Connor, Brian (Shawn) O’Connor, and Jay (Heather) O’Connor; six grandchildren; and her brother, Alan Day Sr. Her husband, John O’Connor, preceded her in death in 2009.

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A staff member wrote, edited or posted this article, which may include information provided by one or more third parties.


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