This weekend many were saddened to learn that Vernon Winfrey, the man Oprah calls her father passed away from cancer.

When Oprah was a pregnant runaway living in Milwaukee, her mother sent her to a juvenile detention centre.

“What am I doing here?”, thought Oprah, who felt she was too good and too smart to end up in such a place. Luckily there were not enough beds so Oprah was sent to live with the legendary Vernon Winfrey, a Nashville barber.

The first thing Vernon and his wife Zelma did was make her scrub off her makeup and dress like a lady. The next thing they insisted on was that she get all As on her report card and do book reports. That was fine with Oprah who had been reading since age three.

Soon Oprah was setting Nashville on fire by winning oratory contests, becoming Miss Fire Prevention, a local radio personality, and Miss Black Nashville and Miss Black Tennesse. All this from a girl was not yet 18.

Had it not been for Vernon taking in the brilliant teen, she feels she might have ended up on welfare with multiple illegitimate kids but instead she became the richest African American of the 20th century and the most influential woman on the planet.

May he rest in peace.