Oprah Winfrey speaks onstage during the 2016 ESSENCE Black Women In Hollywood awards luncheon on February 25, 2016 in Beverly Hills, California.
Photo: Rich Polk (Getty Images for ESSENCE)

Sad news for Oprah Winfrey and half-sister Patricia Amanda Faye Lee, as People confirms that their mother, Vernita Lee, died at her home in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, at age 83 on Thanksgiving Day. No details on her cause of death have been given at this time.

Winfrey is the eldest child of Lee, who was also mother to son Jeffrey Lee and daughter Patricia Lee Lloyd, who died in 1989 and 2003, respectively. In a 2007 interview with Milwaukee’s TMJ4, Lee, a former domestic worker, spoke about her now-famous daughter and other children, expressing her pride in Oprah’s incredible achievements and saying, “I knew Oprah was going to be something.”


Despite being the mother of a world-famous daughter, Lee herself generally shied away from the spotlight. Of raising Winfrey to be a success, she simply stated, “I loved her the way that she loves people now.”


We last saw Winfrey celebrating Thanksgiving with her surrogate “daughters” from the Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy in South Africa in a series of Instagram posts on Thursday. She has not been on social media since, though a spokesperson told People that Lee has already been laid to rest at a private funeral.


Maiysha Kai is Managing Editor of The Glow Up and your average Grammy-nominated goddess next door. Minneapolis born, Chicago bred, New York built. Nuance is her superpower.

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