Nashville, Tenn.–Vernon Winfrey, Oprah Winfrey’s father, died late Friday after battling cancer, Oprah announced in a statement. He was 89.
“Yesterday with family surrounding his bedside I had the sacred honor of witnessing the man responsible for my life, take his last breath,” Oprah said in a tribute to her father shared on Instagram. “We could feel Peace enter the room at his passing.”
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.”