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Television

Oprah Winfrey’s mother, Vernita Lee, died on Thanksgiving, family says

Vernita Lee, the mother of Oprah Winfrey, shown here at the Indianapolis 500 in 2005.
Vernita Lee, the mother of Oprah Winfrey, shown here at the Indianapolis 500 in 2005.

Vernita Lee, Oprah Winfrey’s mother, has died at age 83, the family confirmed Monday.

Lee died on Thanksgiving Day at home in Milwaukee and has already been laid to rest in a private funeral, the family said in a statement.

She is survived by daughters Winfrey and Patricia Amanda Faye Lee, the latter of whom she put up for adoption and later reconnected with, as well as her grandchildren and great-grandchildren. She was predeceased by her two other children, son Jeffrey Lee, who died in 1989, and daughter Patricia Lee Lloyd, who died in 2003.

Vernita Lee, who worked as a maid, was 18 and not married when Winfrey was born in rural Mississippi in 1954. Winfrey was reportedly raised by her grandmother until age 6, when she reunited with Lee and moved to Milwaukee.

No other details about Lee’s passing were provided, and a spokeswoman for the Oprah Winfrey Network said the TV host would have no statement of her own at this time.

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