After a short battle with cancer, jazz singer Maria Cole has passed away at the age of 89. Cole, widow of music legend Nat King Cole and mother of Natalie Cole, died Tuesday in a hospice in Boca Raton, Florida. The Cole family announced her death Thursday in a statement.
"Our mom was in a class all by herself. She epitomized class, elegance, and truly defined what it is to be a real lady. We are so blessed and privileged to have inherited the legacy that she leaves behind along with our father. She died how she lived – with great strength, courage and dignity, surrounded by her loving family," Cole’s three surviving children, Natalie, Timolin and Casey, said.
Before her marriage to Nat King Cole in 1948, Maria performed with the Benny Carter Band, Court Basie Band, and Duke Ellington Orchestra. She recorded several songs with her husband and performed numerous times with him throughout the 50s. The Coles had five children - biological daughters Natalie, Timolin and Casey, adopted son Nat Kelly, and adopted daughter Carole.
Maria and Nat remained married until Nat died of lung cancer in 1965 at the age of 45. Nat Kelly died in 1995 of AIDS and Carole died in 2009 of lung cancer.
A private funeral service will take place at Forest Lawn Memorial Park in Los Angeles.
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