Oprah Winfrey’s mother Vernita Lee has died in her home in Milwaukee, Wisconsin on Thanksgiving Day. She was 83.
A spokeswoman for the TV mogul issued a statement saying Lee died on November 22. The spokeswoman said private funeral services have already been held. No other details were provided.
Lee was a teenager when she gave birth to Winfrey in Mississippi in 1954. She moved to Milwaukee and worked as a housekeeper, with Winfrey’s maternal grandmother raising her until she was six years old. She then moved to Milwaukee to live with her mother.
The 64-year-old has been open about the difficult relationship she had with her mother when she was young. She spent much of her childhood travelling between the homes of her mother and father, Vernon Lee.
“I suddenly land in a place that’s completely foreign to me. I don’t know anybody. I don’t really even know my mother,” Winfrey told Huffington Post in a 2015 interview. “I walked into that space feeling completely alone and abandoned.”
Their relationship healed over time and Lee was featured getting a makeover on The Oprah Winfrey Show in 1990.
Lee is also survived by another daughter, Patricia Amanda, and four grandchildren. She also had two other children — son Jeffrey Lee, who died in 1989 and daughter Patricia Lee Lloyd, who died in 2003.
The talk show host posted two videos on her Instagram page from Thanksgiving. She has not been active on social media since.