TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The last surviving plaintiff in Topeka's Brown v. Board of Education case, which led to the historic 1954 Supreme Court ruling outlawing segregation in public schools, has died at 88.

Zelma Henderson died Tuesday in Topeka, six weeks after being diagnosed with pancreatic cancer.

Her son, Donald, said she wasn't physically imposing, but when she was passionate about something, "She was just fire."

In 1950, Henderson signed onto the litigation on behalf of her children challenging Topeka's segregated schools. In all, 13 black parents in Topeka, including the Rev. Oliver Brown, took part in the federal case.

The plaintiffs lost in U.S. District Court, but the case was appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court, and consolidated with similar cases from Virginia, South Carolina and Delaware.

The high court's unanimous ruling overturning school segregation came on May 17, 1954.