Vernon Winfrey, father of Oprah Winfrey and former councilman, dies at 88

Vernon Winfrey dies
Vernon Winfrey dies
Published: Jul. 9, 2022 at 10:16 AM CDT

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WSMV) - Former councilmember and father of Oprah Winfrey passed away Friday night at the age of 88.

Well known for his barbershop, Winfrey Barber & Beauty Shop, and achievements during his 16 years Metro Nashville Council, many in the community mourned the loss of Vernon after his long battle with cancer.

“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,” Mayor John Cooper said on Twitter.

Oprah was recently in Nashville for Independence Day weekend to celebrate ‘Vernon Winfrey Day,’ a day dedicated to her father, who was battling cancer at the time. Many family and friends attended the backyard barbeque to celebrate Vernon’s life.

The cause of Vernon’s death has not yet been confirmed regarding if it had anything to do with his battle with cancer.

“It is with a sad but grateful heart that I join the rest of Nashville in honoring former Councilman Vernon Winfrey. I had the good fortune to know him as a friend. For nearly 20 years, he served the city on the Council. And who better to serve the people than a man who worked at his own barbershop for 60 years until just last year where he was the eyes and ears of the community around him. Our prayers today are with Oprah, Nashville’s and Councilman Winfrey’s pride and joy, and all of his loved ones,” Register of Deeds Karen Johnson said in a statement.

Even at age 88, barbers said Vernon was still taking on a few clients a week. But on Saturday the station he once occupied stood empty and they said the shop will never be the same.

Gary Lymon, a barber who worked with Vernon in his shop for more than eight years said he is heartbroken.

Lymon said Vernon was like family to him and was known for making everyone laugh and always being willing to help anyone in the community. He said working with Vernon changed his life and knows he’s not the only one.

“He was like a father, grandfather, I mean he was a really nice guy,” Lymon said. “He was funny, very funny and he meant a lot, not only to me, but to the whole community because he has been here for so long.”

Workers said Vernon spent years teaching them lessons not just about business but about life.

Lymon said that they plan to leave Vernon’s station in the barbershop empty to honor his memory.

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