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Oprah Winfrey celebrates her ailing dad with appreciation day barbecue

The media mogul said she wanted to celebrate her dad, Vernon Winfrey, "while he’s able to receive the joy."
Oprah Winfrey Attends Premiere With Father
Oprah Winfrey, seen with her dad, Vernon Winfrey, in 2003, celebrated him with a special barbecue on July 4. Adriane Jaeckle / Getty Images

Oprah Winfrey celebrated her father, Vernon Winfrey, with a special barbecue on July 4. 

“So we’ve been planning a backyard barbecue that’s actually more than a backyard barbecue,” the OWN mogul, 68, said in an Instagram video. “It’s for Vernon Winfrey Appreciation Day.”

She shared that she wanted to make sure her dad knows how much he is loved.

“My father is ill and so we wanted to be able to have all of his friends come and celebrate him while he’s able to receive the joy,” she said.

When her close friend, Gayle King, asked off camera if her dad had any idea what the barbecue was really about, Winfrey said he “doesn’t even know that this is for him,” saying he thought it was just a “Fourth of July thing.”

The video also showed a glimpse of the outdoor party in Nashville, Tennessee, which included fried chicken, hamburgers and brisket.

Winfrey’s dad, who worked as a barber, made an appearance in the last few seconds of the video sitting in a barber’s chair. 

Vernon Winfrey
Vernon Winfrey, right, seen here in 2008, was a barber for decades in Nashville, Tennessee.RJ Sangosti / Denver Post via Getty Images

The TV mogul also shared the touching meaning behind her dad’s celebration in the video’s caption.

“Giving my father his ‘flowers’ while he’s still well enough to smell them,” she wrote. “Happy 4th of July as you gather with your family and friends. Remember to celebrate each other.”

She did not disclose any details about the nature of her dad’s illness.

Winfrey has been spending time with family in Nashville over the past few days, sharing photos and videos on Instagram of the preparation for her father’s appreciation day.

“Getting ready for a backyard barbecue. My cousin Burnice raking the yard. I’m sorta mopping the patio #classic,” she captioned one recent Instagram photo.

She also shared a video of her family shelling crowder peas for the upcoming barbecue, writing in the caption, “Back to my Nashville roots!”

Winfrey’s father, who is reportedly in his late 80s, was a barber for more than five decades in Nashville. Winfrey's mother, Vernita Lee, died in Milwaukee in 2018 at 83.