Marshall's Life Outside the Courtroom
Marshall was so much more than just a stuffy Supreme Court Justice. He was humorous, as evidenced by his saying, "What's shaking Chiefy Baby?" to Chief Justice Burger. In interviews that we had with some of his clerks, we asked them to describe his relationship with his clerks, and all of them described his open nature. One of them, Scott Brewer, recalled the time when Marshall told his clerks that he would retire at the end of their time being his clerks. He also said that he should have retired when he first saw that years set of clerks. This joviality was his key to keep his clerks hard working under an extremely stressful environment.
Unfortunately for Marshall his first wife died before they could have any children. Marshall was described as a man who needed to be married. Not that he couldn't cook; his grandmother had made sure that he could do that. Blue-claw crabs, a specialty of his hometown in Baltimore, Maryland, was a common meal that he would serve for guests. However, Marshall was the type of person who needed the support of a solid family, who could keep his home a place of rest, instead of it being a place needing his attention as well. He remarried to Cecilia Suyat, with whom he had two sons, Thurgood Jr. and John. Marshall would joke about how his only exercise would be the time he spent playing softball or touch football with his sons. Both of them chose law enforcement careers initially, supposedly without their father's influence.
Whenever Marshall had some free time on his hands, he would sit in his den and watch baseball games or reruns of his favorite western movies. As for music, Marshall admitted that he didn't "know all the titles and composers" but he liked music from jazz to symphonies. His interest in jazz is perfectly understandable since he went to Howard University with famous band leader Cab Calloway. Marshall also considered legendary Duke Ellington and Lena Horne as two of his closest friends. However, Marshall was not a showy person. When financial reports were disclosed in 1989, Marshall's holding were between $50,000 and $100,000, as compared to $1.3 million and $2.6 million of other justices. He presumably passed this trait to his sons, one of whom passed up a high salary employment opportunity to work for Massachusetts senator Ted Kennedy.