Rest in peace. Oprah Winfrey’s father Vernon Winfrey passed away on July 8, 2022, after battling cancer. Oprah revealed that her dad passed in an Instagram video post and honored him in the best way she could.
The Instagram video featured her father at a backyard party and Oprah’s friend and gospel singer Wintley Phipps sang for him. “Vernon Winfrey 1933-2022,” she captioned the post. “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 🙏🏾
On July 4, 2022, Oprah posted a video of her and her close friends and family throwing her father a surprise barbecue. “So, I’ve been planning a backyard barbecue that’s actually more than a backyard barbecue, it’s for Vernon Winfrey Appreciation Day,” she told her friend Gayle King who was filming the video of Oprah in front of a banner that said “Vernon Winfrey Appreciation Day.”
Oprah revealed that the party was a total surprise for her father as she gushed to Gayle about what was happening. “He doesn’t even know this is for him. He thinks it’s a Fourth of July thing he doesn’t even know it’s for him. Because my father is ill and so we wanted to be able to have all of his friends come and celebrate him while he is able to receive the joy, so that’s what we’re doing receiving the joy.” She captioned the video, “Giving my father his ‘flowers’ while he’s still well enough to smell them. Happy 4th of July as you gather with your family and friends. Remember to celebrate each other 💐”
In June 2021, Oprah spoke with People about her father while promoting her show Honoring Our Kings, Celebrating Black Fatherhood. “I had a father who took responsibility for me, even though he knew I could have been somebody else’s child,” she said. “My mother and father never married. They had sex one time. He gets a letter after I’m born saying, ‘Send money. You have a daughter.’ And the reason he did, he said, is because it could have been him. And the responsibility that he took for me, not just a responsibility but care and love and direction and support as a young teenage girl, is the thing that made the difference in me being who I am now or somebody you would have never, ever heard of.
She continued, “I saw that over and over again in my father’s barbershop. Men would come in, hardworking men, doing everything they could in their lives to support their families, working sometimes two and three jobs to do that,” she continued. “So that’s the story I know of Black fathers — the ones I grew up with and the man I know. The narrative of the absentee father, it’s not accurate that that is the only picture. That’s what I want to say.”