Everything To Know About Sandra Day O’Connor’s Husband, John Jay and Their Sons Scott, Brian, and Jay

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Trailblazing judge Sandra Day O’Connor was married to her husband John Jay O’Connor III for nearly 60 years and the duo had three children together. Details about her family explored.

The world is greatly saddened by the death of Sandra Day O’Connor, a trailblazing judge who wielded great influence as the first female justice to serve in the Supreme Court.

Her passing was widely announced in court as she died on Friday, December 1, 2023, in Arizona due to complications related to advanced dementia.

Of course, holding such a prestigious pathbreaking role will have a significant reflection in terms of wealth. The judge died a millionaire and the bulk of her fortune came from her long legal career, 25 years as a Supreme Court justice, various board positions, and speaking engagements after retiring from the bench.

In the wake of her tragic death, which has shocked many leading to countless tributes pouring on social media, many who were inspired by her are curious to know more about her family, especially, her spouse and kids. Keep reading for more about her personal life.

Sandra Day O'Connor was married once in her lifetime to lawyer John Jay who died in 2009, 14 years before she also died.
Sandra Day O’Connor was married once in her lifetime to lawyer John Jay who died in 2009, 14 years before she also died.

Who was Sandra Day O’Connor married to?

Sandra Day O’Connor, the Former Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States, was married once in her lifetime.

At the time of her passing in December 2023, the late prominent figure was not known to be married or dating anyone.

While her relationship status was unclear in her last 14 years on earth, she was the widowed wife of John Jay O’Connor III, a fellow lawyer.

The duo being scholars with similar interests met as students when she was in their final year at Stanford Law School. Her spouse was one class year behind her.

They began dating and six months after her graduation, on December 20, 1952, O’Connor and Day married at her family’s ranch.

At the time of their marriage, the duo were both 22 years old.

The now-late couple were inseparable and stayed as husband and wife for almost 6 decades. Their union brought forth three children.

Her husband, John Jay O’Connor III, supported his wife throughout her tenure as a lawyer, politician, jurist, and associate justice.

Sandra Day O’Connor is sworn in as Associate Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court on September 25, 1981, as her husband, John O’Connor, center, looks on. Credit: CNP / Polaris

Who was John Jay, Sandra Day O’Connor’s husband?

John Jay O’Connor III was born on January 10, 1930, in San Francisco, California.

He was of Irish Catholic descent.

He obtained his bachelor’s degree from Stanford University in 1951.

O’Connor also received his law degree from Stanford in 1953.

During his tenure as a law student, he met his future wife, Sandra Day O’Connor, where they both served as law review editors.

The two quickly hit it off and married just a year before graduation.

Following law school, O’Connor served within the US Army Judge Advocate General’s Corp in Frankfurt, West Germany from 1954 until 1956.

During that time, his wife, Sandra Day, was employed by the US Army Quartermaster Corps as a civilian lawyer.

The Quartermaster Corps is one of three US Army logistics branches, along with the Transportation and Ordnance Corps.

After being discharged, the duo spent a year living in a ski resort in Austria.

After returning to the US in the late 1950s, the couple moved to Phoenix, Arizona.

When Sandra Day was appointed to the US Supreme Court by President Ronald Reagan in 1981, the couple and their children moved to Washington, D.C.

O’Connor continued to practice law in the nation’s capital.

He practiced with two firms, Miller & Chevalier and Bryan Cave.

Sandra Day O'Connor and her husband, John Jay, were married for 57 years until their deaths fourteen years apart. Image Source: Getty
Sandra Day O’Connor and her husband, John Jay, were married for 57 years until their deaths fourteen years apart. Image Source: Getty

How did John Jay O’Connor die?

Before Sandra Day died in December 2023, she had lost her husband, John Jay, 14 years prior.

In the early 2000s, John Jay O’Connor was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease.

As his health deteriorated, Sandra Day ultimately decided to retire from the US Supreme Court in 2006 to spend more time with her husband and family.

The couple moved back to Arizona shortly after her retirement.

O’Connor died of Alzheimer’s on November 11, 2009, in Phoenix, Arizona.

He was 79 years old.

The couple, who had been married for 57 years, loved each other until the very end.

His obituary stated: “He was assigned to work on an article with one of the [Stanford Law] school’s few female students, Sandra Day, and quickly fell in love with her.”

Sandra Day O'Connor and John Jay with their sons. Image Source: Getty
Sandra Day O’Connor and John Jay with their sons. Image Source: Getty

Did Sandra Day O’Connor and John Jay have children?

Sandra Day O’Connor and John Jay, couple with a background in the US legal justice system, were proud parents of three despite their busy careers in law and politics.

The pair managed to be an inspiration to their kids.

Sandra Day and John Jay welcomed three children, all boys, in their 57 years of marriage before death did them apart.

The names of their kids are Scott O’Connor, Brian O’Connor, and Jay O’Connor.

Scott was born in 1958 just as the duo was putting down roots in Arizona.

Brian followed in 1960.

Two years later, their third son, Jay, was born in 1962.

Sandra Day took a five year leave from the legal profession after giving birth to Brian.

During that time, besides welcoming her third son, she also volunteered.

Sandra Day was the leader of several civic and social organizations in Arizona, like the Junior League of Arizona and the Maricopa County Young Republicans.

To keep her legal prowess, she also provided pro bono legal services to Arizona’s underprivileged communities.

In an interview with Arizona Central in 2018, Jay reminisced about his mother.

“She still played all the traditional roles of what a mom is and ran the household and organized our activities,” Jay said.

“She just was incredibly busy juggling those two things at the same time and was an early role model for how to deal with those challenges.”

What does Sandra Day O’Connor’s son do for a living now? Unfortunately, none of the judge’s children took the path of their parents in law and politics. Today, Jay is a software industry executive. His brothers, Scott and Brian, both work in commercial real estate.

John Jay and Sandra Day’s children now have children of their own.

The duo were proud grandparents of multiple grandchildren, including Courtney, Keely, Adam, Weston, Dylan, and Luke.

President Barack Obama delivers the 2009 Presidential Medal of Freedom to former US Supreme Court justice Sandra Day O'Connor in Washington, DC, on August 12, 2009
President Barack Obama delivers the 2009 Presidential Medal of Freedom to former US Supreme Court justice Sandra Day O’Connor in Washington, DC, on August 12, 2009Credit: Polaris

Who was Sandra Day O’Connor?

Sandra Day O’Connor was an American politician.

She was born on March 26, 1930, in El Paso, Texas.

She graduated from Stanford University’s Law School, where she met her husband, John Jay, while the two served as editors of the Stanford Law Review.

Before her tenure as a Supreme Court justice, she was a judge and elected official in Arizona.

From 1965 to 1969, Sandra Day served as assistant Attorney General of Arizona.

She served as the first female majority leader of a state senate as the Republican leader in the Arizona Senate.

On August 19, 1981, President Ronald Reagan nominated Sandra Day O’Connor to the US Supreme Court.

He described Sandra Day as “truly a person for all seasons, possessing those unique qualities of temperament, fairness, intellectual capacity, and devotion to the public good which have characterized the 101 brethren who have preceded her.”

On September 25, 1981, she officially became the first woman to serve on the Supreme Court.

She remained the only female associate justice until Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s nomination in 1993.

In 2006, Sandra Day retired from the US Supreme Court.

None of Sandra Day O'Connor and John Jay's sons followed in their footsteps in terms of career as they ventured into tech and real estate business. Image Source: Getty
None of Sandra Day O’Connor and John Jay’s sons followed in their footsteps in terms of career as they ventured into tech and real estate business. Image Source: Getty

Despite her relatively young age (for an associate justice) and good health, she chose to retire due to her husband John Jay’s declining health and battle with Alzheimer’s disease.

As reported by Arizona Central, in an interview with the Associated Press in 2007, Sandra Day commented on the fact that most associate justices stay on the court until their health deteriorates, or until their death.

She said: “Most of them get ill and are really in bad shape, which I would’ve done at the end of the day myself, I suppose, except my husband was ill, and I needed to take action there.”

After her retirement, she succeeded Henry Kissinger as the Chancellor of the College of William & Mary in Williamsburg, Virginia.

She also founded the nonprofit organization iCivics, an online tool that provides resources and games to teach students about civic education.

Her son, Jay, says that over 6 million US students currently use the program.

His mother started the nonprofit because “she was horrified at the level of civics education and this is the solution she came up with.”

“That’s how important she feels that it is to understand how the government works and be a part of it.” 

On August 12, 2009, Sandra Day was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Barack Obama.

Just a few years later, Sandra Day began succumbing to the same illness that ultimately led to her husband’s passing.

She retired from public life in October 2018 after being diagnosed with the early stages of dementia.

On Friday, December 1, 2023, Sandra Day O’Connor died in Arizona due to complications related to advanced dementia and respiratory illness.

She was 93 years old.

Shortly after her death, Chief Justice John G. Roberts, Jr. released a statement mourning O’Connor.

He said: “A daughter of the American Southwest, Sandra Day O’Connor blazed an historic trail as our Nation’s first female Justice.”

“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.”

He added: “And we celebrate her enduring legacy as a true public servant and patriot.”