Tuesday, August 9, 2022

W&M president on Justice Sandra Day O’Connor’s dementia diagnosis: She ‘has been a force for good’

Sandra Day O’Connor (WYDaily/Courtesy William & Mary)
Sandra Day O’Connor (WYDaily/Courtesy William & Mary)

William & Mary President Katherine Rowe has released a statement of support for U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, just hours after the justice announced her diagnosis of dementia in a public letter.

O’Connor, 88, was named William & Mary’s 23rd chancellor on Oct. 1, 2005. She succeeded William & Mary’s current chancellor, Robert M. Gates, who was named chancellor on Feb. 3, 2012.

She was the first female Supreme Court Justice.

Here is Rowe’s full statement:

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.”

On Tuesday, O’Connor released a letter detailing her intentions to step out of the public eye following her diagnosis. She intends to step back from iCivics, a free website teaching core principles of civics to middle and high school students.

“I will continue living in Phoenix, Arizona, surrounded by dear friends and family. While the final chapter of my life with dementia may be trying, nothing has diminished my gratitude and deep appreciation for the countless blessings in my life,” O’Connor wrote.

O’Connor announced her retirement from the Supreme Court in 2005 after 24 years on the bench. She was nominated by President Ronald Reagan, and took her seat in 1981.

Sarah Fearing
Sarah Fearing is the Assistant Editor at WYDaily. Sarah was born in the state of Maine, grew up along the coast, and attended college at the University of Maine at Orono. Sarah left Maine in October 2015 when she was offered a job at a newspaper in West Point, Va. Courts, crime, public safety and civil rights are among Sarah’s favorite topics to cover. She currently covers those topics in Williamsburg, James City County and York County. Sarah has been recognized by other news organizations, state agencies and civic groups for her coverage of a failing fire-rescue system, an aging agriculture industry and lack of oversight in horse rescue groups. In her free time, Sarah enjoys lazing around with her two cats, Salazar and Ruth, drinking copious amounts of coffee and driving places in her white truck.

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