For all her happiness, Sister Okazaki did not fear or deny difficult realities. She wrote candidly about the racism she sometimes experienced as an Asian woman living in Utah. In doing so, she broke a taboo against admitting such faults in our community. Even confronting us with the need to Lighten Up reflected her fearless incisiveness in self-examining our Utah LDS culture. She also addressed the topic of sexual abuse in her speech to victims, “Healing from Sexual Abuse.”
That she could do these things and only increase in esteem and affection in the hearts of so many members of the church is a testimony to her unmatched diplomacy and consistently healing touch. One message that her success conveys to me is that it is a cheap kind of fearlessness and truth-telling that merely screams every fault like so much spray of lead shot. Sister Okazaki’s courage was the courage to dedicate herself to the hard work of making broad and meaningful impact.
She fully lived the covenant to mourn with those who mourn, comfort those who stand in need of comfort, and stand as a witness of God.
Chieko Nishimura Okazaki (October 21, 1926 – August 2, 2011)
First counselor to General Relief Society President Elaine Jack.
Mother of two sons.
Author and speaker. Books and speeches include: Cat’s Cradle, Aloha!, Lighten Up, Sanctuary, Being Enough, Disciples, Shared Motherhood, Stars, What a Friend We Have in Jesus, and Healing from Sexual Abuse.