Oprah Winfrey's Mother Vernita Lee Has Died At Age 83, According To Reports
Sad news has emerged about someone close to Oprah Winfrey. According to Us Weekly, Winfrey's mother, Vernita Lee, died on Nov. 22, Thanksgiving Day. The publication reported that she passed away at the age of 83 at her home in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
In a statement released to Us Weekly, Lee's family said they are “saddened to share of her passing." The article went on to note that private funeral services had already been held for Lee, who was born on May 2, 1935 in Mississippi.
In addition to Winfrey, she is survived by her daughter, Patricia Amanda Faye Lee; four grandchildren, Alisha Hayes, Chrishaunda Lee Perez, Aquarius Lofton, and Andre Brown; and four great-grandchildren, Jaxon Praise Perez, Chai Theresa Perez, Donovan Hayes, and Trinity Hayes. She also had two other children who predeceased her, Jeffrey Lee, who passed in 1989, and Patricia Lee Lloyd, who died in 2003.
As NBC news reported, it's well-known that the talk show host has had a fraught relationship with her mother over the years. She was originally raised by her maternal grandmother, Hattie Mae Lee. Then at age 6, she was then sent to live with her mother in Milwaukee because of her grandmother's failing health (she died in 1963).
“So at 6, I am introduced to this woman who I’m told is my mother and none of the normal feelings — love, joy at being together again — were there. And so for years, I was asking the question… What is a mother? What are you supposed to feel about your mother?”
Over the years, Winfrey has been open about her relationship with Lee. In 2013, during an episode of Oprah's Lifeclass, the host discussed this exact topic with Bishop T.D. Jakes, according to Huffington Post. In a clip from the series, Jakes says that fixating on an ideal relationship with someone who you believe is not giving you enough love or support could actually be harmful.
“I’ve had to learn to do this with my mother,” Winfrey told Jakes, “That’s why it hit me. You’ve got to meet people where they are and love them at the level that they can receive it.” She went on to say, "You have in your own mind what a mother should be and what you wanted your mother to be. And in many cases, your mothers and your fathers can’t be what your ideal is. Isn’t that correct?”
While there's been strife in their relationship, it seems as though the mother-daughter pair had been in a better place in recent years. The media mogul has since reconciled with her mom following Lee's appearance on The Oprah Winfrey Show in 1990, which saw Winfrey welcoming her mother onto the show for a makeover segment.
At the time of the article's publication, Winfrey has not yet released a public statement about the news of her mother's passing.