Oprah Winfrey’s Mother Passes Away, Vernita Lee Dies At Age Of 83

David LivingstonGetty Images

Vernita Lee, Oprah Winfrey’s mother, reportedly died on Thanksgiving Day. Fans of the media icon know that Oprah had a challenging relationship over the years with her mother. However, the two mended things in recent years.

TMZ reports that Oprah Winfrey’s mother died at the age of 83. The news reportedly came via Oprah’s niece, Alisha Hayes, who shared the news on social media and the family has apparently confirmed Vernita Lee’s passing.

Fans of Winfrey know that she had a difficult childhood in many ways, and in great part, this was due to an estrangement with her mother. Vernita worked as a maid in Milwaukee while Oprah was little, and this meant that the young child lived with her maternal grandmother for a while. Winfrey reunited with her mother when she was 6-years-old, but they struggled to connect.

Adding to the difficulties between Oprah and Vernita was abuse that Winfrey suffered when she was young. The sexual abuse came via both an uncle and a cousin and these incidents happened while she was living with her mother.

Oprah and Vernita did smooth things over in their relationship, and fans of Winfrey’s former show may remember when Lee was brought on and given a makeover. Eventually, Vernita apparently got a fair amount of financial support from her daughter and was living in an upscale Milwaukee condo over the years before her death.

As Heavy details, it is not yet known what Lee’s cause of death was. So far, Oprah has not yet publicly acknowledged her mother’s passing. Regardless of that, fans of Winfrey’s are taking to social media to share their well-wishes in the wake of the news.

Oprah has always been quite open about the challenges she endured as a child, including the complicated relationship she had with both her mother and her father. Winfrey lost a brother to AIDS quite a few years ago and learned as an adult that she had a sister whom Vernita had placed for adoption at birth.

Oprah’s journey to repair her relationship with her mother served as an example to many of her fans of what was possible when families experience significant difficulties and those who love Winfrey have always loved how open and honest she has been about her struggles. Fans are sending their love and support to Oprah Winfrey right now and know that she’ll open up about the loss of her mother Vernita Lee when she’s ready.