Widow of Nat 'King' Cole dies of cancer at 89

FILE - In this May 12, 1960 file photo, singer and jazz pianist Nat 'King' Cole and his wife, Maria Hawkins Cole, arrive at London Airport, United Kingdom, Maria Hawkins Cole, widow of Nat "King" Cole and mother of Natalie Cole, has died, Tuesday, July 10, 2012 in South Florida after a short battle with cancer. She was 89. (AP Photo/Brian Calvert, File)

July 11, 2012 7:11:31 PM PDT
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.