SALT LAKE CITY, Aug. 4 (UPI) — Chieko Okazaki, a popular Mormon writer and speaker, has died at the age of 84 in Salt Lake City.
Okazaki died of congestive heart failure Monday, The Salt Lake Tribune reported. She spent the last few months of her life in an assisted living facility.
A convert to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints from her parents’ Buddhist faith, Okazaki in 1961 became the first person not of European descent to serve on the Young Women’s Board. From 1990 to 1997, she was on the General Relief Society Presidency, also a first for a non-Caucasian.
Okazaki wrote inspirational books, including “Lighten Up,” “Aloha” and “Every Good Thing.”
The daughter of Japanese plantation workers in Hawaii who scrimped to send her to college, Okazaki became a Mormon at 15. She married Ed Okazaki, a World War II veteran she met at the University of Hawaii, and moved to Salt Lake City with him after he converted to her faith.
Okazaki was a teacher and principal in addition to her church work and caring for her two children.
Kathleen Flake, a professor of religious history at Vanderbilt and friend of Okazaki, said she had a “uniquely powerful voice.”
“She took real and pressing problems and not only comforted but led women in how to constructively engage those problems using the resources of the gospel,” Flake said.