Maria Hawkins Cole, the widow of music legend Nat ”King” Cole and the mother of Natalie Cole, died Tuesday in Florida after a brief battle with cancer, reports People. She was 89.
”Our mom was in a class all by herself. She epitomized class, elegance, and truly defined what it is to be a real lady,” Natalie Cole and her siblings, Timolin and Casey Cole, said in a statement.
”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,” the statement also said.
Maria performed with the Benny Carter band, Count Basie Band, and Duke Ellington Orchestra in her youth.
Both her husband Nat and adopted daughter Carol died of cancer. Maria Cole is survived by her children, Natalie, Timolin, and Casey, sister, two sons-in-law, and six grandchildren. In lieu of flowers, the family prefers donations to be made to Nat King Cole Generation Hope Inc.