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On Thursday journalist and philanthropist Soledad O’Brien shared the devastating news of her father’s death with her fans on social media.

O’Brien’s father Edward died on Wednesday. He was 85 years old. The circumstances surrounding his passing remain unknown.

The former CNN host shared an early image of her father, while she was just a baby in her mother’s arms.

“My dad passed away last night. He was 85. he was a sharpshooter in the military. A professional athlete. A scientist. Here he is with my mom (and me) in 1966,” she wrote.

She went on to tell her father’s history, detailing his life as a migrant from Australia and former scholar.

Soledad’s niece and fellow journalist Antonia Hylton also expressed her grief via Twitter, promising to cherish the moments she had with the man who selflessly gave to his family.

“My grandpa was my hero & I’m missing him terribly. What I’ll add to @soledadobrien is that he was also generous & hilarious. He saved up to help pay for college for all 20-something grandkids. He walked me thru my physics homework on the phone. He saw humor & light in everything,” Hylton wrote.

O’Brien often recalled her multi-racial upbringing and the challenges her parents faced as an interracial couple during the 1950’s. O’Brien’s father Edward moved to the States from Australia, while her mother, Estela, migrated from Cuba. Her parents met as students at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland, and connected over the shared subtleties of living as immigrants in America. Because the laws at that time prevented interracial couples from marrying (O’Brien’s father is Irish while her mother is Afro-Cuban), the two ventured to Washington, D.C. where they were able to marry.

The couple later relocated to Long Island where O’Brien was born and raised, with her five siblings.

“My older sisters were born in Maryland, which, like Virginia, was under an anti-miscegenation law, and my mom told me people would spit on them as they walked down the street,” O’Brien said of her parents struggles in a 2016 essay for Variety. “Even when my family moved to New York, where I was born, it was hard to get housing. But my parents never talked about that while we grew up. They didn’t want that to frame how we thought about our community. They were quiet activists but felt they were on the right side of history.”

Our condolences to the O’Brien family during this difficult time.

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