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Della Beatrice Howard Robinson – Everything About Ray Charles’ Ex-Wife

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  • Post last modified:November 9, 2021
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Della Beatrice Howard Robinson is famously known as the former spouse of late African-American singer, songwriter, and composer, Ray Charles Robinson, Sr. Della was married to the late musician for more than two decades before their marriage fell apart. Besides, the former husband-and-wife also gave birth to three children while they were married to each other.

Apart from Della, there were a number of women with whom Ray Charles had had relationships during his heydays. However, his relationship with Della is considered the only relationship he was serious.

Della Beatrice Howard Robinson rose to fame after she started dating the late singer and songwriter. And even after Charles’ death, his fans are still curious to learn about his former wife, Della. So, let’s dig out everything about her in today’s episode.

Della Beatrice Howard Robinson Birth Details – What’s Her Age?

Robinson was born Della Beatrice Antwine in a small town in Texas. Talking about her birthday, her son, Ray Charles Jr., has mentioned in his book, You Don’t Know Me: Reflections Of My Father that his mother was two years older than his father.

Since Ray Charles Sr. was born in September 1930, we can presume Della was born sometime around 1928. Meanwhile, when it comes to her age, she is in her mid-90s. As a matter of fact, Bella was always annoyed that her late ex-husband was older than her.

Della Beatrice is the ex-wife of late music artist Ray Charles Robinson
Della Beatrice is the ex-wife of late music artist Ray Charles Robinson

Coming to Beatrice’s parents, they were from Richmond, Texas. She completed her studies in Texas. Robinson reportedly had to walk sixteen miles every day for her studies. She studied at a local school until the fourth grade and then she moved to Houston.

Her Parents weren’t Married

Having kids out of wedlock in the late 1920s wasn’t common at all, however, Della Beatrice’s parents were one of the uncommon couples of that time. Her parents never actually tied the knot, however, she has no idea why so.

In fact, Della’s father had left her mother and was married to another woman in Houston. Bella knew who her father was but she never had a chance to meet her biological father in her childhood. Beatrice spent her early childhood days with her maternal family.

Growing up, Della shared a close bond with her maternal grandmother Mama Lee and her uncle George. She left her maternal family and started living with her mom by the age of ten.

Della Beatrice Howard Robinson Didn’t Like Her Mother’s Partying Nature as a Child

After she moved in to live with her mother, Della took some time to accustomed to her mother’s lifestyle. Initially, she was unhappy with the way her mother lived her life which included late nights and partying after work.

Even more, her relationship with her mother soured after she was made to look after her baby brother, James. After that, Della decided to move out of her mother’s house, however, she regretted her decision immediately. Della admits leaving her mom’s house was a big mistake to this day. After leaving her mom’s house, Robinson started living with her cousin Robert Lee.

Her Struggles After Leaving Her Mom’s Home

Robinson faced hardships after she left her mom’s house. Luckily, she received a Social Security card and a health card as nobody would ask for a birth certificate in those days. Following that, she went on to work waiting tables.

Later on, Robinson started singing with a gospel group. Shortly after she started singing, she moved in with one of the members of the group, Ella Dooley. And by the time she graduated high school, she had already joined Cecil Shaw’s gospel group.

Della Beatrice Howard Robinson Career as a Gospel Singer

As we said above, Della started singing at the beginning of her career. She started as a gospel singer. Shortly after she became a member of Cecil Shaw’s gospel group, Robinson started singing on local radios and concerts. Subsequently, Della and her group received a recording contract and suddenly they became famous at a local level.

Some of their works are still available while some of them vanished with time. More importantly, Della appeared on covers and by the time she became an adult, she had a wonderful gospel singing career in front of her.

Personal Life: Della Beatrice Howard Robinson Went Through a Couple of Unsuccessful Marriages

We all know Robinson was famously married to late singer Ray Charles, however, only a few of us might be aware of the fact that she was married twice before she met Charles. Yes, you read that right! Her first husband was a minister’s son whom she met at a church service.

During her early 20s, Della wanted a home of her own and children, so she married the man shortly after their first meeting. But, unfortunately, Della’s first husband’s name is not revealed. Meanwhile, Robinson’s marriage to her first husband didn’t last long. She once mentioned that her then-husband would physically abuse her whenever he was unhappy with her.

Shortly after her first divorce, Della found another tall and handsome churchgoer whom she started dating soon. Robinson got married to her second husband after a short courtship, however, her second marriage didn’t even last as long as her first one.

In fact, her second spouse was more violent than her first one. So, she left him on an impulse and moved to New York City.

Relationship with Third Husband: The Love of Her Life

Della Beatrice Howard Robinson had been through a couple of failed marriages and was still a gospel singer when she met the love of her life i.e., Ray Charles. At the time, Della was still a group member of Cecil Shaw Singers. As a matter of fact, before she met Ray in person, she had heard that he was a drug addict and a womanizer.

While Ray found Howard’s personality impressive, Howard had a different perception about her future husband initially. They met in 1954 in Texas in a hotel. As a matter of fact, Della had never expected to meet Ray again after their first meeting, however, she frequently ran into him on the road.

Della Beatrice Howard Robinson's ex-husband, Ray Charles
Della Beatrice Howard Robinson’s ex-husband, Ray Charles

Little did she know that their random meetings were not coincidences, but the late singer had agreed with Cecil to tip him about her schedules. Robinson was married to her second husband at the time of their meeting, however, shortly later, Howard left her second spouse and moved to NYC, where she again met Charles.

How Did Their Romance Blossom?

Della Howard had moved to New York City with a little money in her pocket. She didn’t have stable jobs and the money she had was barely enough for the rent. And then came her future husband Ray who paid her week’s rent without her knowledge. After that, Ray asked her to move to Dallas which she accepted hesitantly.

They frequented their meeting after Howard’s move to Dallas and soon, they fell in love with each other. Around one year after their first meeting, Howard and Ray Charles tied the knot in Dallas in 1955. They kept their wedding low key and a woman whom they had never met read them their vows.

Married Life and Children

In May 1955, Della and her then-husband, Ray, welcomed their first child, Ray Charles Robinson Jr. Back then, they were living in Myrtle Street, Dallas, Texas. The then-husband-and-wife further welcomed two more kids, sons David Robinson, and Robert Robinson.

Even though their married life seemed perfect from the outside, Charles’s addiction to drugs and women gradually took their marriage out of the course. Charles was at the peak of his career and he continued touring to different places which hampered his family life in one way.

Della Beatrice and her ex-husband with their children
Della Beatrice and her ex-husband with their children

Since he was a singing sensation, even his small affairs and hookups made big headlines, creating a gap in his and his wife’s conjugal life. Charles had affair with several women, including Mary Ann Fisher, Margie Hendricks, and Mae Mosely Lyles. Despite his affair and hookups, Della remained married to him for a long time.

Her Divorce from Ray Charles

Finally, in 1976, Robinson filed for divorce from her then-husband, Charles. However, the details of her filing were kept secret for a long time. At the time, Charles Sr. was living with their son and his girlfriend. They reportedly finalized their divorce in 1977.

In spite of their divorce, Dell and her ex-husband, Ray had maintained an amicable relationship. She would even visit him during the time Charles was in rehabilitation. Nearly 27 years after their divorce, Della’s ex and the great music artist, Ray Charles died on June 10, 2004, of liver failure.

Where is Della Beatrice Howard Robinson Currently?

Robinson has lived a low-key life and has been under the media radar ever since her divorce from Ray Charles. Due to this, it is very difficult to find out where Robinson lives currently and what she does. However, during the early 2010s, Robinson was living in Riverside County. When it comes to if she is alive or not, Robinson is pretty much alive and kicking.