Money can buy many things, but time with loved ones is always priceless. TMZ reports Oprah Winfrey’s father Vernon Winfrey passed away on Friday, June 8 after a battle with cancer. The media mogul announced his death on Instagram Saturday with a video from her recent trip home to Nashville. Instead of celebrating the 4th of July, Oprah threw a surprise party giving her father “his ‘flowers’ while he’s still well enough to smell them.”
“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,” Oprah said about her last moments with her father.
Oprah shared a series of videos leading up to the surprise Vernon Winfrey Appreciation Day.
“So we’ve been planning a backyard barbecue that’s actually more than a backyard barbecue and it’s for Vernon Winfrey Appreciation Day. My father is ill, so we wanted to be able to have all of his friends come and celebrate him while he’s able to receive the joy,” Oprah explained.
Vernon was the successful businessman and beloved barber behind Winfrey Barber & Beauty shop for over 50 years. She gave him the fitting honor of enjoying the celebration seated at a barber’s chair like a throne.
Oprah was always proud of her father and regularly celebrated his life and accomplishments. In 1992, Oprah gave the world a glimpse into her Nashville roots on her iconic talk show. The first stop was a visit to her father’s barbershop.
She also introduced the audience to Tommy, the adopted son Vernon took in after Oprah moved out of the family home. The loving father looked out for all the kids in the community. He even cut the local children’s hair at a discount if they didn’t have the full price, which was $6 at the time. One of Vernon’s employees told TMZ, “[Vernon] would give you the shirt off his back.”
According to a statement from Nashville Mayor John Cooper, Vernon was also an Army veteran, Metro Council member for 16 years, church deacon, and mentor to young men in his community.
The former queen of daytime TV posted several videos from the trip, proudly saying she was “getting back to my Nashville roots.” In preparation for the festivities, Oprah and her family shelled crowder peas fresh out of her cousin’s garden. You can really feel the love in every precious moment Oprah shared.
Of course, Oprah’s best friend Gayle King was at the celebration. Gayle held down the bacon station for breakfast while Oprah whipped up the grits.
On Thanksgiving in 2018, Oprah’s mother Vernita Lee passed away at 83 years old.
“If it were not for him, I doubt that anybody in the world would know my name,” Oprah said on a Father’s Day post last month. “I know firsthand how the trajectory of life can change by the positive influence of a good father.”
Rest in peace, Vernon Winfrey. Our condolences go out to his family and loved ones.