John O'Connor III, the husband of retired Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, died today in Phoenix of complications from Alzheimer's disease, according to an announcement from the Court. He was 79.
O'Connor, an accomplished lawyer in his own right, worked with Miller & Chevalier and Bryan Cave after his wife was appointed to the Supreme Court in 1981. He was a familiar figure at the Court, and once said that his life had become "vastly broadened and vastly enriched by her appointment." Early in her tenure, to his amusement, some who were not accustomed to a woman on the Court addressed John O'Connor as Justice O'Connor.
The justice retired in 2006 in large part because of his illness, but soon thereafter his condition worsened, and he was moved to a Phoenix facility for those with the disease. Justice O'Connor, who has remained very active on issues of public education and judicial independence, has also become an advocate for more research into treatments for the disease.
In addition to his wife, O'Connor is survived by their three sons and six grandchildren. The Court announcement said memorial services will be private.