We’re so sorry to hear this. Oprah Winfrey‘s mom, Vernita Lee, has sadly died at age 83, the 64-year-old media mogul’s rep confirmed to Closer Weekly on Monday, Nov. 26. “The family of Vernita Lee are saddened to share of her passing on Nov. 22, 2018, at her home in Milwaukee, WI. She was 83 years old,” an official statement from Vernita’s family began.
“Born May 2, 1935, she is survived by her daughters Oprah Winfrey and Patricia Amanda Faye Lee, grandchildren Alisha Hayes, Chrishaunda Lee Perez, Aquarius Lofton, and Andre Brown and great-grandchildren Jaxon Praise Perez, Chai Theresa Perez, Donovan Hayes, and Trinity Hayes. She was predeceased by son Jeffrey Lee (1960-1989) and daughter Patricia Lee Lloyd (1959-2003). Private funeral services have been held. Memorial donations in Vernita’s name may be made to Feeding America (feedingamerica.org),” the message continued.
During a previous interview with local Milwaukee station TMJ4, Vernita opened up about her famous daughter, Oprah. “I loved her the way that she loves people now,” she said, adding that she was most proud of Oprah when she “did the Color Purple” back in 1985. Vernita also spoke out about losing two of her children during the TMJ4 sit-down. “I’m a Christian lady, and if you’re a Christian person, it helps you to deal with situations like that,” she said.
Oprah was born in January 1954 in Kosciusko, MS when Vernita was just a teenager. The TV star’s family later moved to Milwaukee when Oprah was six years old. In a 1999 interview with People, Oprah’s father, Vernon Winfrey, 85, recalled how Vernita informed him that they had welcomed a daughter in the mid-1950s. “[Oprah’s] mother wrote me 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,” he revealed at the time.
Our thoughts are with Oprah and her family as they mourn the loss of Vernita.