Vernon Winfrey Dies: Hundreds Turn Out to Oprah’s Father’s Funeral in Tennessee

by Joe Rutland

Hundreds of people gathered on Thursday for the funeral of longtime Nashville business owner Vernon Winfrey, father of Oprah Winfrey. According to the Tennessean, Vernon Winfrey was a longtime barber shop owner at Winfrey Barber & Beauty Shop. He also served on Metro Council from 1975-91. Winfrey was a charter member of Faith United Missionary Baptist Church. He served as a deacon there for 45 years.

Oprah Winfrey, who was a resident of Nashville at one time, was accompanied by partner Stedman Graham and friend Gayle King. Reportedly just days before Vernon Winfrey died, Oprah threw a “celebration of life” party for him. Music, food, and loved ones showed up to be around him. Oprah would say in a social media post that everyone surrounded her father with joy until he could “no longer speak.”

Family, Friends Gather Together To Remember Vernon Winfrey

Family friend Dwight Lewis, who is a retired reporter and columnist at The Tennessean, commented about remembering his friend. “Every person has their own name,” Lewis said. “It’s important people recognize his.” Vernon Winfrey died on July 8 at 88 years old after battling cancer. His daughter would show up on July 4 and visit him. It also was Vernon Winfrey Appreciation Day as well.

“Giving my father his ‘flowers’ while he’s still well enough to smell them,” Oprah would write on Instagram. “Happy 4th of July as you gather with your family and friends. Remember to celebrate each other.” Upon hearing of Winfrey’s death, Nashville Mayor John Cooper shared his thoughts.

“I offer my deepest condolences to the family of Vernon Winfrey,” Cooper would write on Twitter. “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.”

Home, Family Connection Means Something To Oprah Winfrey

For Oprah, there’s always been a deep connection for her between home and family. They served as an anchor for her as she would rise to international fame. “No matter how hard the trial or difficulty in your life, your family should be your soft place to fall,” she would write on her website. “Your true family, whether they’re biological or acquired, holds a sacred trust for you. There’s a holy covenant of unconditional desire for you to be all that you were meant to be.”

After working in local television for a number of years, Oprah Winfrey would go on to become known all over the United States for The Oprah Winfrey Show. She even established her own television channel and has authored books, too. Her own story, though, has a Tennessee connection thanks to her beloved father.