Vernon Winfrey, father to television icon Oprah Winfrey, died over the weekend after a long battle with cancer. The news was confirmed via an Instagram post from Oprah herself on Sunday. He was 88 years old.
“Vernon Winfrey 1933-2022. Less than a week ago we honored my father in his own backyard,” Oprah captioned in a video. “My friend and gospel singer Wintley Phipps saluted him with song. He FELT the love and reveled in it until he could no longer speak. Yesterday with family surrounding his bedside, I had the sacred honor of witnessing the man responsible for my life, take his last breath. We could feel Peace enter the room at his passing. That Peace still abides. All is well. Thank you for your prayers and good thoughts.”
As Oprah alluded, over the July 4th holiday weekend, she surprised her father with a special gathering of his closest friends and family together to celebrate him and “give him his flowers while he’s still well enough to smell them.”
“So we’ve been planning a backyard barbeque, thats actually more than a backyard barbeque. It’s for Vernon Winfrey Appreciation Day,” she told her bestie Gayle King at the time. “Because my father is ill and so we wanted to be able to have all of his friends come and celebrate him while he’s able to receive the joy. So that’s what we’re doing.”
Per Complex, Vernon served as a member of Nashville’s Metro City Council for 16 years. He was also a well-known barber throughout his local community. The Root sends our love and prayers to Oprah and all who knew and loved Vernon Winfrey.