He was 89 years old.
Oprah’s father, Vernon Winfrey, passed away late on July 8. He was 89 years old.
During his final weeks, Oprah was able to spend time with him, saying in her Father’s Day intention video that she was in Nashville to see him. Then, just last week, Oprah shared that Mr. Winfrey was battling cancer.
In a video on her Instagram, Oprah shared that she was spending the Fourth of July with him—but what Vernon thought was just an Independence Day party was actually a celebration dedicated to honoring his life. Oprah called it the “Vernon Winfrey Appreciation Celebration” and surprised him with flowers, balloons, a giant sign, and some of his favorite people including his older sister, Christine, who he greeted with a tearful embrace. “Thank you for being the kind of father who has brought honor to your life and honor to my life,” Oprah told him during the celebration.
In a message of remembrance released today, Oprah writes:
“Less than a week ago we honored my father in his own backyard. 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.”
In her video for Father’s Day, Oprah reflected on some of the lessons her father taught her, crediting him with her success. “If it were not for him, I doubt that anybody in the world would know my name.” She finished by sharing how important father figures can be: “I know firsthand how the trajectory of life can change by the positive influence of a good father.” It’s clear that Mr. Winfrey made that positive impact during his life—one that will be felt by many for a long time.