Vernita Lee, the mother of media maven Oprah Winfrey, has reportedly died at the age of 83. She reportedly died on Thanksgiving Day Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
“Lee was born on May 2, 1935 and worked as a housekeeper throughout her life,” according to a report by PEOPLE, which confirmed the death through a family member. She is survived by Winfrey and daughter Patricia Amanda Faye Lee, who she gave up for adoption at birth and reconnected with later in life. Lee also had two other children — son Jeffrey Lee, who died in 1989 and daughter Patricia Lee Lloyd, who died in 2003.
Winfrey once hinted at the relationship she had with her mother and living in Milwaukee while giving a speech to the NAACP in 2003.
“Coming to Waukesha County on a Saturday evening was not my idea of a great time,” Winfrey said at the time to the audience. “But my mama convinced me it was gonna be a ‘wonderful evening.’”
According to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel:
In 2011 Lee appeared on her daughter’s television show with a Milwaukee woman who was put up for adoption by Lee in 1963. Winfrey said on her show that she was stunned to learn about her sibling, Patricia Amanda Faye Lee, who also appeared on the show.
Patricia Lee was put up for adoption when Winfrey was 8 and living with her father.
Lee said she never told Winfrey about her half-sister “because I thought it was a terrible thing for me to do … I made the decision to give her up because I was unable to totally take care of her.”
The family has reportedly held a funeral for Lee over the weekend.
This is a developing story that will be updated as more information becomes available.