WASHINGTON (AP) – Retired Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, the first woman to serve on the nation's highest court, has died. She was 93.
O'Connor died of complications related to advanced dementia and respiratory illness, the Supreme Court said in a press release. A daughter of the American Southwest, O'Conner died in Phoenix.
In 2018, she announced that she had been diagnosed with "the beginning stages of dementia, probably Alzheimer's disease." Her husband, John O'Conor, died of complications of Alzheimer's in 2009.
O’Connor’s nomination in 1981 by President Ronald Reagan and subsequent confirmation by the Senate ended 191 years of male exclusivity on the high court. A native of Arizona who grew up on her family’s sprawling ranch, O’Connor wasted little time building a reputation as a hard worker who wielded considerable political clout on the nine-member court.
The granddaughter of a pioneer who traveled west from Vermont and founded the family ranch some three decades before Arizona became a state, O’Connor had a tenacious, independent spirit that came naturally. As a child growing up in the remote outback, she learned early to ride horses, round up cattle and drive trucks and tractors.