Oprah Winfrey’s Mother Vernita Lee Dies On Thanksgiving At Age 83

LONDON, ENGLAND - MARCH 13: Oprah Winfrey attends the European Premiere of 'A Wrinkle In Time' at BFI IMAX on March 13, 2018 in London, England. (Photo by John Phillips/John Phillips/Getty Images)

According to essence.com, Oprah Winfrey’s mother, Vernita Lee, died on Thanksgiving, her family confirmed to TMZ. She was 83.

Lee died in her Milwaukee, Wisconsin home, People reports, and has already been laid to rest in a private funeral, according to a spokesperson for Winfrey.

The television mogul’s mother was born May 2, 1935 in Mississippi. Having worked as a housekeeper most of her life, she later met Winfrey’s father, Vernon Winfrey, and welcomed Winfrey in 1954.

“[Oprah’s] mother wrote me,” Vernon told People, “and told me that, you know, the baby had just come, in a letter: what it weighed, what its name was and so forth and so on.”

Winfrey then went on to live with her grandparents, when her mother couldn’t care for her due to the stresses of her job. By the time Winfrey was 6 years old, she had returned to live with her mother in Milwaukee. Still, she eventually moved in with her dad after trouble at school and being raped and molested by a family member.

Although their relationship was troubled, it appeared Winfrey and her mother reconciled as the creator of OWN even had Lee on her eponymous talk show in 1990, with Winfrey giving her a makeover.

Lee is survived by Winfrey, her daughter Patricia Lee along with several grandchildren and great-grandchildren.




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