Frances Darby of Mesquite, Texas, died June 17, 2007. She was 87.

In 1947, she began taking ceramics classes from a teacher across the street. Her husband, Joseph, thought firing her ceramic and porcelain pieces was too expensive, so he built her a kiln.

One kiln led to another, and she founded Paragon Industries in 1948, eventually producing one of the first electric kilns in America. Over the years, Paragon became the largest hobby kiln manufacturer in the world.

Darby became known as a highly principled CEO constantly fighting the “glass ceiling.” She fought the airlines when women were not allowed in business class; challenged the banking industry when they required a male cosigner on notes; fought for women business owners and the expansion of equal rights.

She is survived by two sons, Michael of Pacific Palisades, Calif., and Joseph of Dallas.