Vernon Winfrey, father of Oprah Winfrey, died Friday evening in Nashville, Tenn., the media mogul confirmed in an Instagram post after Nashville’s WKRN 2 broke the news. No cause of death was specified, though according to multiple reports he was battling cancer. He was 89.
“Less than a week ago we honored my father in his own backyard,” Oprah captioned the video of gospel singer Wintley Phipps serenading Vernon.
“He FELT the love and reveled in it until he could no longer speak,” she wrote. “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.”
She thanked her followers for their prayers and good thoughts, writing, “That Peace still abides. All is well.”
Born in 1933, Vernon Winfrey was a barber and barbershop owner for nearly five decades, and also served on Nashville’s Metro City Council for 16 years. Additionally, he was a trustee for Tennessee State University.
“I offer my deepest condolences to the family of Vernon Winfrey. Vernon served on Metro Council for 16 years, and dedicated his life to entrepreneurship, barbering and mentoring young men in the community,” wrote Nashville Mayor John Cooper on Twitter. “An Army veteran and deacon, he leaves behind a legacy of service.”
Oprah previously disclosed that her father had been sick in a July 4 post celebrating “Vernon Winfrey Appreciation Day.” O Magazine Editor-at-Large Gayle King filmed as family and friends surprised Vernon, who sat in a barber chair, with a backyard barbecue.
“Giving my father his ‘flowers’ while he’s still well enough to smell them,” she captioned the post.
Oprah is the only child of Vernon and Vernita Lee, who passed away in 2018 at age 83. They were never married. He was previously married to Barbara Winfrey.