Vernon Winfrey, Father of Oprah Winfrey, Dies at 89

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Vernon Winfrey, the father to Oprah Winfrey and a former member of the Metro Nashville Council, died Friday after facing a recent illness. He was 89 years old.

Oprah Winfrey confirmed the death of her father through a statement on Instagram, sharing a recent video of Vernon Winfrey at an Independence Day backyard barbecue that took place at his own residence. Alongside his friends and family, Vernon was saluted by gospel singer Wintley Phipps, who performed a song for him.

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“Less than a week ago we honored my father in his own backyard,” Oprah Winfrey shared. “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,” Winfrey continued. “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.”

Last week, Oprah Winfrey shared that she was in Nashville, Tenn. to visit her father, stating that she would be “giving [him] his ‘flowers’ while he’s still well enough to smell them.”

Born in 1933, Vernon Winfrey served on the Metro Nashville Council for 16 years during his lifetime. He was also an established barber in his community, operating a barbershop in East Nashville for more than 50 years.

Oprah Winfrey’s mother, Vernita Lee, died in 2018 at the age of 83. Lee and Vernon Winfrey were never married.

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