Oprah Winfrey’s mother Vernita Lee has died at age 83.
The family confirmed Lee’s passing on American Thanksgiving at her home in Milwaukee on Thursday, Nov. 22. A private memorial service has already been held.
Born in 1935 in Mississippi during segregation, Lee gave birth to Winfrey in 1954. She moved to Milwaukee where she worked as a housemaid, leaving Winfrey to be raised by her grandmother until the age of 6.
The separation put a strain on Winfrey’s relationship with Lee; the two later reconciled, with the media titan reportedly purchasing a luxury condo for Lee and providing her with a monthly stipend. In 2010, Winfrey discovered she had a long-lost half-sister, Patricia Amanda Faye Lee, pictured above with Lee.
The obituary reads: “The family of Vernita Lee are saddened to share of her passing on November 22, 2018 at her home in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. She was 83 years old. 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).”
Winfrey thanked fans on Instagram for their support in the wake of her mother’s death.