O'Connor named to cowgirl hall of fame

June 7, 2002 at 3:40 PM
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FORT WORTH, Texas, June 7 (UPI) -- Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, who learned to ride and rope as a young girl on her family's ranch, was inducted Friday into the hall of fame at the new $21 million National Cowgirl Museum.

After her induction, O'Connor joined Texas Gov. Rick Perry, Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, R-Texas, and other officials in cutting a ribbon to open the new museum which honors women of the American West who showed courage and pioneering spirit.

"If you haven't been in here yet, you really have a treat in store," O'Connor said. "It is sensational and it's such an honor to be made a member of this honored group of cowgirls."

O'Connor, the first female justice on the Supreme Court, is a native of El Paso, Texas and grew up on the Lazy B, her family's ranch on the Arizona-New Mexico border. She learned to ride before she was 8-years-old and helped with daily chores on the ranch.

O'Connor later attended Stanford Law School and was an assistant state attorney general, a state senator, and a judge in Arizona before President Reagan nominated her to the Supreme Court in 1981.

There are 158 Cowgirl Hall of Fame honorees, including pioneers, artists, writers, entertainers, humanitarians, businesswomen, educators, ranchers and rodeo cowgirls. They include painter Georgia O'Keeffe, writer Laura Ingalls Wilder, sharpshooter Annie Oakley, Hollywood film star Dale Evans, and Sacajawea, the Indian guide for the Lewis and Clark Expedition.

The museum was started in 1975 in the basement of the Deaf Smith County Library at Hereford in West Texas but moved in 1994 to Fort Worth where an eight-year campaign was started to raise the funds for the new museum in the city's cultural district.

Also inducted Friday were Polly Burson, one of Hollywood's premier stuntwomen; Kathy Daughn, one of the top cutting horse competitors in the nation; Arlene Kensinger, a trick rider and barrel racer, and Anne Burnett Tandy, a philanthropist and a founder of the American Quarter Horse Association.

The 33,000-square-foot museum includes three gallery areas that feature 2,000 artifacts in a permanent collection, a multipurpose theater, a hands-on children's area, a flexible gallery area for traveling exhibits, a research library and a grand rotunda saluting the spirit of the cowgirl.

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