Vernon Winfrey, father of Oprah Winfrey and a former member of the Nashville Metro Council, died late Friday at the age of 88, Oprah confirmed. Winfrey wrote on Instagram: “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.”
The post was accompanied by a video of gospel singer Wintley Phipps serenading Vernon Winfrey at a “Vernon Winfrey Appreciation Celebration” Oprah organized in his Nashville back yard on July 4. Oprah wrote: “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.” A tribute post on Oprah Daily, Winfrey’s website, said the celebration had been a surprise for the older Winfrey, who was initially led to believe he was attending a Fourth of July barbecue.
Winfrey’s mother, Vernita Lee, died at the age of 83 in 2018. Vernon Winfrey owned and operated Nashville’s Winfrey Barber & Beauty Shop for more than 50 years. Nashville Mayor John Cooper wrote on Twitter: “I offer my deepest condolences to the family of Vernon Winfrey. Vernon served on Metro Council for 16 years and dedicated his life to entrepreneurship, barbering, and mentoring young men in the community. An Army veteran and deacon, he leaves behind a legacy of service.”