Oprah Winfrey's mother, Vernita Lee, dies at 83

Vernita Lee and Oprah Winfrey

Oprah Winfrey's mother Vernita Lee dies aged 83 on Thanksgiving Day

Our thoughts and prayers are with Oprah and her family during this hard time.

Winfrey has not commented publicly on her mother's death. File picture: Joel C Ryan/Invision/AP.

Vernita Lee, mother of media mogul Oprah Winfrey, died at 83, multiple media outlets reported. A spokesperson for Winfrey told the publication her mother has already been laid to rest at a private funeral.

No other details were given. They moved to Milwaukee when Winfrey was 6 years old.


Lee featured on her daughter's show in 1990, getting a makeover.

Lee is survived by Winfrey and daughter Patricia Amanda Faye Lee, whom she placed for adoption as an infant and reconnected with as an adult.

Lee was a lifetime member of the NAACP, and her daughter joked at the dinner that Lee had been asking her for years to come to Waukesha County to speak at the Freedom Fund event. The family directed memorials to Feeding America in Lee's name.

On a 2013 visit to Pewaukee, Oprah discussed some aspects of her childhood and revealed that her mother was the one who taught her the importance of giving as a way to "enlarge the spirit of somebody else". Due to this, Oprah lived with and was raised by her maternal grandmother for the beginning of her life and moved to Milwaukee to live with her mother when she turned six.


"I suddenly land in a place that's completely foreign to me".

Oprah had two half-siblings on her mother's side.

"I loved her the way that she loves people now", she said, adding that her proudest moment was in 1985 when Winfrey "did the Color Purple". "To my mother, I say, 'You can let this shame go'".


Latest News