The television titan was not with Lee at the time of her passing, as she was celebrating the holiday in Santa Barbara, Calif., with girls from the school she opened in South Africa in 2007. As of Monday, Winfrey has neither commented on Lee’s death nor updated her social media.
A family spokesperson told E! News Monday Lee has been laid to rest at a private funeral. Memorial donations may be made to Feeding America in her name, the spokesperson added.
In addition to Winfrey, Lee is survived by daughter Patricia Amanda Faye Lee; grandchildren Andre Brown, Alisha Hayes, Chrishaunda Lee Perez and Aquarius Lofton and; and great-grandchildren Donovan Hayes, Trinity Hayes, Chai Theresa Perez and Jaxon Praise Perez. She was predeceased by her children, Jeffrey Lee(1960-1989) and Patricia Lee Lloyd (1959-2003).
Lee was born May 2, 1935 and worked as a housekeeper throughout her life.
By her own admission, Winfrey’s relationship with Lee had always been fraught. Raised by her grandmother in Mississippi for the first years of her life, Winfrey was later sent to live with Lee in Wisconsin. She was then sent to Tennessee to live with her father before she was returned to Lee without explanation—something Winfrey spoke about often on her eponymous talk show. While Lee was physically present, Winfrey said she wasn’t emotionally available. “I grew up with an understanding that there was this God—all-knowing, all-powerful—who loved me. The wonder of that, the magical mystery of that, is what carried me when I was separated from my grandmother and sent to live with my mother at 6 years old. I suddenly land in a place that’s completely foreign to me. I don’t know anybody,” Winfrey recalled on OWN in 2015, adding that she didn’t “really even know my mother” at the time, let alone what life with her was like.