Oprah Winfrey and late mother Vernita Lee
Oprah Winfrey’s mother Vernita Lee – who gave birth to Oprah during her early teen years – has already been laid to rest at a private funeral, according to PEOPLE.
Lee passed away on Thanksgiving, November 22, at her home in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, but a cause of death has not yet been determined.
Vernita – who worked as a housekeeper throughout her life – is survived by Oprah, 64, and her other daughter, Patricia Amanda Faye Lee.
Vernita is also survived by her four grandchildren – Alisha Hayes, Chrishaunda Lee Perez, Aquarius Lofton and Andre Brown – and four great-grandchildren – Jaxon Praise Perez, Chai Theresa Perez, Donovan Hayes and Trinity Hayes.
Vernita gave birth to Oprah at the age of 14, shortly after meeting Oprah’s father, Vernon Winfrey. But she subsequently moved to Milwaukee to become a maid, meaning the American icon was raised by her grandmother.
he duo had a distant relationship until later in Oprah’s life, and they eventually appeared together on Oprah’s eponymous talk show in 1990.
Meanwhile, Vernita’s son Jeffrey Lee passed away in 1989, while her third daughter, Patricia Lee Lloyd, died in 2003.
During a TV interview, Vernita revealed how her faith in God helped her through the death of her two children.
She shared: “I’m a Christian lady, and if you’re a Christian person, it helps you to deal with situations like that.”
Vernita also spoke of how proud she was of Oprah, who has stayed away from social media since her mother’s passing.
She said: “I loved her the way that she loves people now.”