STORY: U.S. Rep. Greg Stanton (D-AZ): "And today I rise along with my colleagues representing all of Arizona Republicans and Democrats alike, to honor the life and legacy of the most influential Arizonan in history. Justice Sandra Day O'Connor."Sandra Day O’Connor, the first woman to sit on the U.S. Supreme Court, died on Friday at the age of 93.The court said in a statement that O'Connor died in Phoenix of complications related to dementia and a respiratory illness. She grew up in Arizona and lived there most of her life.O’Connor was sworn in as the first female Supreme Court justice in 1981... an appointee of then-Republican President Ronald Reagan. She was conservative by nature... having grown up in an Arizona ranch family.But her pragmatism and knack for consensus-building put her at the court’s ideological center. As a former Republican state senator and later Arizona's Senate majority leader – another first-in-the-nation achievement – O'Connor understood how to strategize with colleagues to get a majority decision. Over her quarter-century tenure, O'Connor avoided sweeping pronouncements and voted for incremental change.And, over time, her views became more liberal.She was a pivotal vote on some of the most contentious issues of her era, including preserving a woman’s right to abortion and upholding affirmative action on college campuses.O'Connor once compared her tenure to walking on wet cement, saying, “every opinion you offer, you’ve left a footprint.” She retired from the court in 2006... Replaced by the more ideologically rigid conservative Justice Samuel Alito. After retirement, she dedicated herself to improving civics education. In 2009, former Democratic President Barack Obama presented O’Connor with the Presidential Medal of Freedom -- the highest civilian honor a president can give.