Oprah Winfrey’s mother Vernita Lee has died aged 83.
The death was first revealed by Oprah’s niece Alisha Hayes on Facebook, and confirmed by representatives for the star.
‘My grandmother, Rest In Peace,’ Alisha wrote, sharing pictures of the two together.
She added: ‘I lost my beautiful grandma on Thanksgiving. She was the number one supporter of Pat’s [Alisha’s restaurant] and was the person who named our restaurant.’
‘We will miss her and will carry on her legacy of good eatin’ ! We love you Vernita Lee!’
Close: Oprah Winfrey, right, and her mother Vernita Lee, who has died aged 83; the two are pictured at Vernita’s 80th birthday three years ago
Enjoying her food: Vernita, in a picture shared by her niece, Alisha
An official obituary explained that Vernita died at her home in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and said a private funeral has already been held.
Donations were asked in her memory for the charity Feeding America.
Along with her famous daughter, Vernita was survived by her daughter Patricia Amanda Faye Lee, Oprah’s half-sister, grandchildren Alisha Hayes, Chrishaunda Lee Perez, Aquarius Lofton and Andre Brown, and great-grandchildren Jaxon Praise Perez, Chai Theresa Perez, Donovan Hayes and Trinity Hayes.
She was predeceased by her son Jeffrey Lee and daughter Patricia Lee Lloyd.
The death was first revealed by Oprah’s niece Alisha Hayes on Facebook , and confirmed by representatives for the star
Mourned: The death was announced by Oprah’s niece, Alisha, who shared this picture and wrote: ‘I lost my beautiful grandma on Thanksgiving.We will miss her and will carry on her legacy of good eatin! We love you Vernita Lee!’
Born in 1935, Vernita was still a teen when she gave birth to Oprah with Vernon Winfrey.
She left the infant to be raised by her own mother Hattie Mae Lee in Mississippi, while she worked away from home in Milwaukee as a housemaid.
Opra, now 64, was six when she first went to live with her mother. She was raped and abused by family friends, who have not been publicly identified, while in Milwaukee.
Oprah moved to Nashville to live with her father permanently in 1968 while she was secretly pregnant at 14.
She gave birth to a son, who died when he was just a week old.
Close: While Oprah and her mother had a rocky relationship at times, they reconciled; they are pictured together in 1994
Throwback: Oprah and her mother are seen in an old picture shared by the star
Oprah had two half-siblings on her mother’s side – Jeffrey, who died of AIDS in 1989, and Patricia, who passed away in 2003.
She also had a second half-sister, coincidentally also named Patricia, with Oprah only learning of her existence in 2010.
They met for the first time that year on Thanksgiving Day.
Vernita and Patricia joined Oprah on her talk show in 2011 to talk about the secret adoption.
Family secrets: Oprah knew nothing of her secret sister Patricia until 2010, when the two first met; here they join Vernita on Oprah’s show in 2011 to reveal the news
Family tree: Of Vernita’s four childrem, only Oprah and Patricia still live
While Vernita and her famous daughter had a difficult relationship at times, they were later reconciled.
Oprah is thought to have supported her mother financially after she found success as a television star.
Oprah spent Thanksgiving at home in Montecito, where she hosted a dinner for family and friends.
Oprah’s smoked turkey: Oprah Winfrey takes to Instagram to show off her smoked turkey Thanksgiving spread with Chef Kenny Gilbert.