Oprah’s mother Vernita Lee died on Thanksgiving Day inside her Wisconsin home, TMZ reports. She was 83 years-old
Lee was born in Mississippi on May 2, 1935, and is survived by Winfrey and her other daughter Patricia Amanda Faye Lee–whom she gave up for adoption, but reconnected with later in life–along with four grandchildren and four great-grandchildren. Lee also had two other children, Jeffrey Lee who died in 1989 and Patricia Lee Lloyd who died in 2003.
According to People, a spokesperson for the Winfrey family confirmed Lee’s funeral already happened.
In 2011, Lee appeared on The Oprah Show with her daughter Patricia Amanda Faye Lee. Winfrey’s mother hid the secret from Oprah for decades until the truth finally surfaced. “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,” she said reports USA Today
Oprah has been vocal in the past about the disconnect she’s felt from her mom. She first went to live wth her in Wisconsin from Mississippi at the age of six. There, she was sexually abused by male figures in her family. In the end, Oprah began to repair her relationship with Lee.
Memorial donations in Lee’s name can be made to feedingmaerica.org.
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