Sandra Day O’Connor, the first woman to serve on the U.S. Supreme Court, has been chosen to be the 2006 Rose Parade grand marshal by Libby Evans Wright, the first woman to serve as president of the Tournament of Roses. O’Connor, who plans to retire after 24 years on the bench, will lead the 117th Rose Parade on Jan. 2, tournament officials announced from Washington, D.C., Tuesday on a satellite feed. The theme of the 2006 Rose Parade is “It’s Magical.’ O’Connor, 75, recalled that when she was a child, she traveled “several times’ with her parents from their Arizona ranch to Pasadena to watch the parade. O’Connor earned a bachelor’s degree from Stanford in 1950, graduating magna cum laude. She attended Stanford Law School, where she met her future husband, John Jay O’Connor. She completed law school in just two years instead of three, and graduated in 1952, third in a class of 102. William H. Rehnquist, the late U.S. Supreme Court chief justice, was in the same class and graduated first. O’Connor practiced privately for several years in California and Arizona and worked as an assistant attorney general in Arizona. Running as a Republican, she served in the Arizona Senate from 1969 to 1975 and as majority leader from 1973 to 1974, the first woman in the country to hold that position. She was a judge on the Arizona Appeals Court from 1979 to 1981. Ronald Reagan nominated her to the Supreme Court in 1981. She was 51 at the time. The Senate confirmed her 99-0. O’Connor recently was named chancellor of the College of William & Mary in Williamsburg, Va., succeeding former Secretary of State Henry A. Kissinger. O’Connor’s selection marks the 16th time a grand marshal has held state or national office. On 11 of those 16 occasions, the grand marshal was a Republican. In one six-year span, from 1959 to 1964, five grand marshals were elected officials three Republicans and two Democrats. The 14-year span between now and the last time a politician was selected grand marshal is the longest such span in the tournament’s 75-year history of selecting grand marshals from outside the city of Pasadena. @tagline columnist:Emanuel Parker can be reached at (626) 578-6300, Ext. 4475, or by e-mail at [email protected] Reporter Gene Maddaus and wire service reports contributed to this story. 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! “That’s exactly what I thought as a child when I got to go to the Rose Bowl parade,’ O’Connor said from Washington. “It’s magical. It still is, it always was and it always will be. The experience was indeed magical, and I have kept it with me. I’m looking forward to sharing this parade with my grandchildren. “I cannot think of a more exciting way to begin the next chapter in my life than by riding down Colorado Boulevard as grand marshal of the 2006 Tournament of Roses,’ she said. “I selected Sandra Day O’Connor because her accomplishments are a shining example for us all,’ Wright said. “I am so very honored that she has accepted my nomination.’ O’Connor is the second Supreme Court justice to be named grand marshal. The first was Earl Warren, former Republican governor of California and U.S. Supreme Court chief justice, who was grand marshal in 1943 and 1955. As grand marshal, O’Connor also will help begin the Rose Bowl game on Jan. 4 with the traditional coin toss.