Gladys Horton, the leader of Motown’s The Marvelettes who gave the label its first No. 1 hit with “Please Mr. Postman,” died Jan. 26 in a Sherman Oaks, Calif., nursing home from complications of a stroke, Reuters reported. Horton was 66.

The Marvelette’s classic R&B hit “Please Mr. Postman” first hit the airwaves in 1961 when Horton was a 17 year-old Motown newcomer. In 2008, it was re-issued with a refurbished rollicking up-tempo beat that stormed local radio stations with it’s increasingly popular club music sound. But few listeners under age 30 knew that Horton was the voice behind Motown’s first No.1 Billboard hit.

“My mother died peacefully,” Vaughn Thornton, the singer’s son, said in a statement issued by the Motown Alumni Association. She fought as long as she could.”

Horton, a foster child, grew up in the Detroit suburb of Inkster and formed a singing group called The Casinyets with friends from high school. The quartet later drew the attention of Berry Gordy’s Motown studio and their name was later changed to the Marvelettes.

The group went on to enjoy a string of chart-topping hits, including “Beechwood 4-5789” in 1962 and “Too Many Fish in the Sea” in 1964. The following year, Wanda Young replaced Thornton as the lead singer, and Thornton left the group altogether in 1967.

Motown progenitor Berry Gordy remembered Horton in a statement, saying she will “always be a part of the Motown family.”

“Gladys was a very, very special lady, and I loved the way she sang with her raspy, soulful voice,” Gordy said in a statement. “We will all miss her.”