Vernita Lee, 83, died on Thanksgiving Day, November 22. The family just confirmed the death and Oprah’s niece Alisha Hayes gave a bit more detail on social media.
Vernita Lee with Vernon Winfrey had Oprah Winfrey in 1954. Because Vernita moved to Milwaukee to work as a maid, she couldn’t raise Oprah and the TV host had to be raised by her maternal grandmother. When Oprah turned 6, she moved to Milwaukee to live with her mother.
Oprah says her relationship with her mother was rocky because of the long separation. But their relationship eventually got better.
Vernita is survived by Oprah and Patricia Amanda Faye Lee and grandchildren Alisha Hayes, Chrishaunda Lee Perez, Aquarius Lofton and Andre Brown, as well as great-grandchildren Jaxon Praise Perez, Chai Theresa Perez, Donovan Hayes and Trinity Hayes.
A private funeral service has already been held.