Barbara Sinatra, widow of legendary jazz singer Frank Sinatra, died on July 25 of natural causes. She was 90.
Born in 1927, Barbara grew up during the Great Depression and faced the hardships of poverty, according to the Washington Post. Her father, Willis, owned a general store during a time in which most of her town's residents couldn't afford basic necessities like meat, coffee, shoes and horse feed. He would often take IOUs and sacrifice meals so his children could eat.
In her 2011 book, "Lady Blue Eyes: My Life With Frank," Barbara wrote that her toys were "made from offcuts of wood" and that she often had to wear patchy, pieced-together clothes.
Upon entering young adulthood, Barbara tried to make it as a model and appeared in such publications as Vogue and Life Magazine. She met Sinatra working as a showgirl in Vegas in 1957. After a long friendship, the two eventually married in 1976 after Barbara ended a troubled marriage with Zeppo Marx of the Marx Brothers.
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With money no longer an issue, Barbara found herself wanting to give back to the community and used her husband's money to throw charity events. In 1985, she decided to focus her efforts on victims of child abuse.
She agreed to raise money on behalf of Barbara Kaplan, head of a struggling children's center.
"Coming face-to-face with those innocent little children who had been so mistreated tore my heart out," Barbara wrote in her memoir. "That’s when I knew I had to get more involved."
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The next year, she opened the Barbara Sinatra Children's Center near Palm Springs, California; she remained actively involved in the organization's work until her death. The Center provides therapy for children who have experienced physical, sexual or emotional abuse.
"Barbara started raising funds for it in 1985 with Frank's support," Children's Center Director John Thoresen told the BBC. "It opened in 1986, and since that time over 20,000 children have received beneficial therapy here."
"There are several child advocacy centers like it around the country, [but] this one is probably most recognized."
Barbara and Frank Sinatra were married for 22 years before the singer died of a heart attack at age 82.
Thoresen confirmed that Barbara passed of natural causes at her home in Rancho Mirage, California, surrounded by her loved ones. She is survived by her her son, Robert Oliver Marx, her daughter-in-law Hillary Marx, and her granddaughter, Carina Blakeley Marx.