Former first lady speaks at inaugural Legacy Luncheon


The Sandra Day O’Connor Institute and Hospice of the Valley presented its inaugural Legacy Luncheon honoring former Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor on April 25 at the Arizona Biltmore.

Laura Bush, former first lady of the United States, was the featured speaker.

Co-Chaired by Gena Bonsall and Penny Gunning, the Legacy Luncheon was created by the Ladies of the Court, the Women’s Board of the Sandra Day O’Connor Institute. The luncheon was attended by a sell-out audience of 665 guests and raised over $400,000 to benefit the O’Connor Institute programs and Hospice of the Valley’s Dementia Care and Education Campus.

The event honored the life and work of Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, the first woman appointed to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Mrs. Bush reflected on her time as First Lady and discussed her memoirs and the New York Times best seller, “Spoken from the Heart.”

Lin Sue Cooney, director of community engagement for Hospice of the Valley and former 12 News/KPNX news anchor, served as mistress of ceremonies and moderated a conversation with Mrs. Bush following her remarks.

The New York Times Book Review wrote that “Spoken From The Heart” is a “… deeply felt, keenly observed account of her childhood and youth in Texas — an account that captures a time and place with exacting emotional precision and that demonstrates how Mrs. Bush’s lifelong love of books has imprinted her imagination.”

Like Sandra Day O’Connor, who was raised in Arizona on her family’s Lazy B Ranch, Mrs. Bush stated in her book, “I was born upon the prairie, where the wind blew free, and there was nothing to break the light of the sun. I was born where there were no enclosures, and where everything drew a free breath.”

During her talk she also described life as First Lady and the post-9/11 White House, when anthrax attacks cut off the mail and she was no longer permitted to take strolls outside the gates. Mrs. Bush, with a master’s degree in library science and a former librarian, helped advance national and global concerns during her tenure, including encouraging education and literacy worldwide.

Founded in 2009 by retired Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, the O’Connor Institute, a nonprofit, nonpartisan 501(c)3, continues her legacy and lifetime work to advance civics education, civic engagement and civil discourse.

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