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Cecilia ‘Cissy’ Marshall, Thurgood Marshall’s Widow Dies At 94

Marshall, a former NAACP legal secretary, married the history-making Supreme Court justice in 1955.

Cecilia ‘Cissy’ Marshall, a former NAACP legal secretary married to Thurgood Marshall long safeguarded the reputation and legacy of her late husband, died on Tuesday (November 22). She was 94.

According to the Washington Post, the Supreme Court announced her death via the court’s public information office but did not cite a cause. Cissy had been living in Falls Church, Virginia.

Marshall, the daughter of Philippine immigrants, was known as Cissy Suyat until she married the history-making Supreme Court justice in 1955 after moving from Hawaii to New York. She worked for the NAACP in the 1940s and ‘50s, as a stenographer, where she met the man who would later become her husband and the first Black Supreme Court justice.

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In 1954, Thurgood Marshall successfully argued in front of the Supreme Court as the NAACP’s lead lawyer in Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka. In the coming months, his first wife, Vivian “Buster” Burey, succumbed to lung cancer and died in February 1955.

After several rebukes at Thurgood Marshall’s offers of marriage, mostly due to the optics of a foreign woman tying the knot with a Black American lawyer, the two married in December 1955, the Post notes.

Over the years, Cissy Marshall safeguarded the reputation and legacy of her late husband as the leading legal architect of the civil rights movement.

Thurgood Marshall, the first Black justice in the court’s history, retired in 1991 and died in 1993. Cecilia continued to attend oral arguments and extracurricular court festivities, often with their son Thurgood Marshall Jr.

Survivors of Cissy Marshall include their sons, Thurgood Jr. and John Marshall, as well as four grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.

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