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.
In Memoriam: Notable Deaths In 2018
1. Richard Overton, 112Source:Getty 1 of 39
2. Aretha Franklin, 76Source:Getty 2 of 39
3. Charles Weldon, 783 of 39
4. Nancy Wilson, 81Source:Getty 4 of 39
5. Willie Naulls, 84Source:Getty 5 of 39
6. Olivia Hooker, 103Source:Getty 6 of 39
7. Kim Porter, 47Source:Getty 7 of 39
8. Willie McCovey, 80Source:false 8 of 39
9. Ntozake Shange, 70
Source:false 9 of 39
“i found god in myself— Melissa Kimble (she/her) 🏁 (@Melissa_Kimble) October 27, 2018
and i loved her
i loved her fiercely”
May you rest in peace, Ntozake Shange. ♥️ pic.twitter.com/r3n3ueGcuS
10. George Taliaferro, 91
Source:false 10 of 39
Taliaferro, 1st black player drafted in NFL, dies https://t.co/83IKcN9RNw— NAACP (@NAACP) October 9, 2018
11. Otis Rush, 84Source:Getty 11 of 39
12. George Walker, 96Source:Getty 12 of 39
13. Kofi Annan, 80Source:WENN 13 of 39
14. Ron Dellums, 83Source:false 14 of 39
15. Angela Bowen, 82
Source:false 15 of 39
Had no idea that Angela Bowen, a black lesbian feminist dance teacher and civil rights cultural worker existed. I keep thinking of all the unnamed https://t.co/M2dbNNlgu0— DJ Scholarship (@lynneedenise) July 23, 2018
16. Joe Jackson, 89Source:Getty 16 of 39
17. XXXTentacion, 20Source:Getty 17 of 39
18. Neal Boyd, 42Source:Getty 18 of 39
19. Dorothy Cotton, 88Source:Getty 19 of 39
20. Jalal Mansur Nuriddin, 74Source:Getty 20 of 39
21. Dovey Johnson Roundtree, 104
Source:false 21 of 39
Dovey Johnson Roundtree, a courtroom warrior for civil rights who also challenged segregationist practices when she was in the Women's Army Auxiliary Corps, died at the age of 104. https://t.co/M4uG2vjk4e— Stars and Stripes (@starsandstripes) May 22, 2018
22. Velvalea Rodgers 'Vel' Phillips, 94
Source:false 22 of 39
:: BREAKING NOW: Milwaukee attorney and civil rights icon Vel Phillips has died, according to her family. She was 94. pic.twitter.com/3yhLdhLtMQ— Steve Chamraz (@TMJ4Steve) April 18, 2018