John J. O'Connor III, the husband of retired Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, died today at age 79 due to complications arising from Alzheimer's disease. John O'Connor, himself a lawyer, was diagnosed with Alzheimer's nearly two decades ago. His condition deteriorated markedly in mid-decade and when she announced her retirement in 2005, the justice cited the need to care for her husband.
Following her retirement, Sandra O'Connor made public her family's battle with Alzheimer's and became a vocal supporter of additional money for research. The family also shared a poignant development, saying that John O'Connor struck up a romance with a fellow Alzheimer's patient at an assisted living center in Phoenix. The relationship changed his outlook for the better, their son, Scott, said, adding that his mother was just glad he was comfortable. (Read more Sandra Day O'Connor stories.)