Retired Justice Sandra Day O’Connor revealed in a letter on Tuesday that she has been diagnosed with the “beginning stages of dementia, probably Alzheimer’s disease.”
“I will continue living in Phoenix, Arizona surrounded by dear friends and family,” she wrote and added, “While the final chapter of my life with dementia may be trying, nothing has diminished my gratitude and deep appreciation for the countless blessings of my life.”
O’Connor, 88, was nominated to the bench by President Ronald Reagan as the first female Supreme Court justice of the United States in 1981.
She retired from the bench in 2006, in part to care for her husband, who was ailing from Alzheimer’s.
O’Connor has a connection to Hampton Roads. The Justice served a Chancellor of William and Mary from 2005 to 2012.
William & Mary released a statement on the news saying:
“Our thoughts are with Justice Sandra Day O’Connor and her family. Throughout her life, Justice O’Connor has been a force for good; she was a trailblazer on the Supreme Court and also a member of the William & Mary family as our 23rd chancellor. We have no doubt she will approach this latest challenge with the same courage that characterized her long and distinguished public life.”