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One year ago: John J. O'Connor III

November 11, 2010 |  6:00 am


John J. O'Connor III was a successful Phoenix lawyer and husband to Sandra Day O'Connor, the first female U.S. Supreme Court Justice. He died one year ago of complications arising from Alzheimer's disease.

O'Connor, a Stanford University law school alumnus, gave up a partnership at a venerable Phoenix law firm to accompany his wife to Washington after she became a Supreme Court justice in 1981.

He appeared unfazed at having to switch to a more supporting role in the relationship.

"Sandra's accomplishments don't make me a lesser man. They make me a fuller man," he once told a reporter.

In Washington, he practiced at the law firm of Miller & Chevalier but in 1988 switched to another firm, Bryan Cave, which allowed him to spend time in Phoenix and take advantage of his contacts there.

The O'Connors were fixtures on the Washington social circuit and were known for their ballroom dancing. John O'Connor was once described as "a magnificent man full of Irish humor and tales" by family friend Alan K. Simpson, a former senator from Wyoming.

For more, read John J. O'Connor's obituary by Times reporter Valerie J. Nelson.

--Michael Farr

Photo: John J. O'Connor III dances with his wife, Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, in 1998 at the annual Meridien Ball in Washington, D.C. Credit: Karin Cooper / Getty Images

Sandra Day O'Connor dances with her husband, John, in 1998 at the annual Meridien Ball in <runtime:topic id="PLGEO100101200000000">Washington, D.C