Video: New chapter for O'Connor

updated 11/13/2007 6:09:37 PM ET 2007-11-13T23:09:37

Sandra Day O'Connor's husband struck up a romance with a fellow Alzheimer's patient after moving into an assisted living center, and under the circumstances, the retired Supreme Court justice is just glad that he is comfortable, her son told a TV station.

The retired justice isn't jealous about his relationship with the woman, Scott O'Connor told KPNX in Phoenix in a broadcast that aired Thursday. He said it has dramatically changed the outlook of his father, John, toward being in the Huger Mercy Living Center.

Sandra Day O'Connor, the first woman on the Supreme Court, cited her husband's illness and her need to take care of him when she retired in 2005. He was diagnosed with the neurological disease 17 years ago.

"Mom was thrilled that Dad was relaxed and happy and comfortable living here and wasn't complaining," their son said.

It was different when he first came to the center recently, the son said: "He knew this was sort of the beginning of the end.... It was basically suicide talk."

John O'Connor was shifted to another cottage at the center, Scott O'Connor said, and "48 hours after moving into that new cottage, he was a teenager in love. He was happy."

The Associated Press sent an e-mail request for comment from the retired justice via Supreme Court spokeswoman Kathy Arberg. There was no immediate response. A message left with the only Scott O'Connor found in a Phoenix phone listing was not returned.

An official with the assisted living center, Dr. Marianne McCarthy, told the station that there were several romances at the center, and people with dementia need intimacy as much as anyone else.

Sandra Day O'Connor, 77, was named to the high court by President Reagan in 1981. She married John O'Connor in 1952, and they have three sons.

Copyright 2007 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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