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Justice Thurgood Marshall's wife 'Cissy' Marshall dies at 94

The Supreme Court says the wife of the late Supreme Court Justice and civil rights champion Thurgood Marshall has died

Jessica Gresko
Tuesday 22 November 2022 22:14 GMT

Cecilia “Cissy” Marshall, the wife of the late Supreme Court Justice and civil rights champion Thurgood Marshall, has died at the age of 94, the court said Tuesday.

Her husband became the high court's first Black justice in 1967 following a career as a civil rights lawyer during which he argued the landmark Brown v. Board of Education case that outlawed segregation in public schools. He retired in 1991 and died in 1993 at the age of 84.

Cecilia Suyat was born in Hawaii in 1928. She moved to New York City and took night classes at Columbia University to become a stenographer. In 1948 she began working at the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, where she met her future husband. Thurgood Marshall's first wife, Vivien Burey, died of cancer in 1955, and he and Suyat married later that year. They had two sons, Thurgood Jr. and John.

In a statement, Chief Justice John Roberts called Cissy Marshall a a “vibrant and engaged member of the Court family" who regularly attended court events. “You wanted to sit next to her at any event," he wrote. "She had an easy sense of humor that could be — in an appropriate setting, of course — a bit saucy.”

Justice Elena Kagan, who was a law clerk to Marshall, called his wife a “marvelous woman” and wrote, “Every clerk to Justice Marshall received a sort of bonus: the steadfast friendship and support of his wife Cissy."

The Supreme Court said funeral arrangements were pending. Thurgood Marshall is buried at Arlington National Cemetery in a section where a number of other former justices are buried.

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