1. People & Relationships

Discuss in our forum

John and Sandra Day O'Connor Marriage Profile

By

Photo: Jeff T. Green / Getty Images

Sandra Day O'Connor and John Jay O'Connor (2nd-L) in Spokane, Washington at the Ninth Circuit Judicial Conference on July 21, 2005.

Photo: Jeff T. Green / Getty Images

News Updates:

11/11/2009: John Jay O'Connor III died at the age of 79.

11/14/2007: Retired Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor and her children are bringing more awareness to the impact of Alzheimer's Disease on marriage by not hiding John O'Connor's new found love at an assisted living facility.

07/01/2005: Citing her age and the need to spend more time with her ailing husband, John, and with her family, Justice Sandra Day O'Connor announced her retirement from the Supreme Court on July 1, 2005.

Here is more information on the wedding and marriage of John and Sandra Day O'Connor.

Born:

Sandra Day O'Connor: March 26, 1930 in El Paso, Texas.

Sandra grew up on the Lazy B ranch, which is 25 miles from Duncan in southeastern Arizona. The ranch was founded in the early 1880s by her grandfather. The size of the ranch is 198,000 acres which covers 240 square miles along the Gila River.

John Jay O'Connor III: January 10, 1930. He grew up in San Francisco, California.

Died:

John: John died at the age of 79 in Phoenix, Arizona on November 11, 2009. John died of complications from Alzheimer's disease.

How Sandra and John Met:

Sandra and John met at Stanford when they were both law students there.

Wedding:

Sandra and John were married on December 20, 1952, six months after she graduated from Stanford. Sandra wore a white dress with a traditional sheer veil.

She had two bridesmaids. John's father, Dr. Jay O'Connor served as best man. The rector of All Saints Episcopal Church in El Paso performed their wedding ceremony.

There were 200 guests at their wedding at the Lazy B Ranch in the new barn that had been built. They butchered a Lazy B yearling and prepared it in a pit barbecue.

Guests brought salads and casseroles. They decorated the barn with pinon pine boughs and mistletoe from the mountains near Silver City. Hay bales were covered with canvas for extra seating.

Some of the music played at the reception included "Put Your Little Foot" and "The Virginia Reel."

Children:

Sandra and John have three sons and several grandchildren.
  • Scott Hampton O'Connor: Born in 1957. Scott attended Stanford and is a businessman in Phoenix, Arizona.
  • Jay O'Connor: Born in 1960. Jay attended Stanford.
  • Brian O'Connor: Born in 1962. Brian attended Colorado College.

Religion:

Sandra is an Episcopalian.

Residence:

Sandra and John lived most of their married life in Phoenix, Arizona. Their home from 1958 to 1981 was an adobe residence they built themselves.
Sandra: "John and I wanted to live in a sun-dried adobe because it speaks to me of the desert," she said, recalling how, decades before, the two sealed the walls of their house in a manner taught to them by Native Americans.
Source: Dianna M. Nanez. "O'Connor family home moved to historical park in Arizona." USAToday.com. 10/23/2009.
Sandra: "My husband John and I first bought over an acre of land for a grand sum of $4,000 ... It's a humble house, but it's part of the earth."
Source: Kathy Shayna Shocket. "Justice's adobe home slated for preservation." O'ConnorHouse.org. 05/05/2008.
Brian O'Connor: "The fact that the mud bricks were made down near Mill Avenue in the Salt River from Arizona earthen materials is fantastic. No less fantastic than the fact that my parents' own hands went into the mudding of each brick that was set."
Source: Kathy Shayna Shocket. "Justice's adobe home slated for preservation." OConnorHouse.org. 05/05/2008.

Occupations:

John: Attorney.

Sandra: Author, Deputy County Attorney, Assistant Attorney General of Arizona, served in the Arizona State Senate, Maricopa County Superior Court Judge, Arizona Court of Appeals, 102nd Justice of the Supreme Court (September 25, 1981) and first woman appointed to the Supreme Court.

Hobbies and Interests:

Sandra enjoys golf, tennis, reading, and dancing.

Health Concerns:

Sandra was successfully treated for breast cancer in 1988.

John had Alzheimer's disease. In summer 2006, after John's condition had deteriorated, Sandra placed John in a care center located near their home in Phoenix.

Education:

Sandra and John both attended Stanford. Sandra graduated in June, 1952 with honors, and John graduated in June, 1953.

Retirement:

After her retirement from the Supreme Court, Justice O'Connor looked forward to time with her husband and family, book projects, and travel.

Trivia:

While she was in law school, Sandra briefly dated U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice William Rehnquist.

Sandra spent five years as a full-time mom.

Sandra was the first woman to serve as a state senate majority leader in any state.

Sandra is a member of the Cowgirl Hall of Fame.

Sandra's husband, John, held two Bibles when she took the oath of office as a Supreme Court Justice.

Quotes About the Marriage of John and Sandra Day O'Connor:

Sandra about putting John in a care center near their home: "It's such a miserable disease. It's so sad. It's so hard. I did the best I could. He wants me there all the time."
Source: MSNBC.com

Senator Alan Simpson about Sandra: "It's tough to go home at night and no longer have this warm, witty guy there."
Source: MSNBC.com

Sandra on marriage at her Senate confirmation hearing: "Marriage is far more than an exchange of vows ... it's the hope of the world, and the strength of our country." (U.S. Capitol, Washington, D.C., September 9, 1981)
Source: History Channel

Sandra when asked how she would like to be remembered: She said on her tombstone she'd like the words: "Here lies a Good Judge."
Sources: Charlottesville News and AZ Central

Books:

Lazy B: Growing Up on a Cattle Ranch in the American Southwest
by Sandra Day O'Connor and H. Alan Day.
Compare Prices

The Majesty of the Law: Reflections of a Supreme Court Justice
by Sandra Day O'Connor and Craig Joyce
Compare Prices

Meet My Grandmother: She's a Supreme Court Justice
by Courtney O'Connor and Lisa Tucker McElroy
Compare Prices

Sandra Day O'Connor Interviews

©2014 About.com. All rights reserved.