BOCA RATON, Florida – Maria Hawkins Cole, widow of Nat "King" Cole and mother of Natalie Cole, has died in South Florida after a short battle with cancer. She was 89.
A representative of the family confirmed that she died Tuesday at a Boca Raton hospice, surrounded by her family.
Born in Boston in 1922, Cole had a long singing career, performing with greats such as Count Basie and Duke Ellington. She began soloing at New York's Club Zanzibar in 1946. She eventually met Nat "King" Cole there, and the two were married in 1948.
Maria Cole traveled and performed with her husband throughout the `50s. After her husband died from cancer in 1965, Maria Cole created the Cole Cancer Foundation.
Besides her daughter Natalie, Maria Cole's survivors include twin daughters Timolin and Casey.