Beloved wife, mother and grandmother, Etsuko Ogura Freeman, 71, died peacefully in her home February 6, 2020, due to complications from cancer.
Born September 12, 1948 in Okayama, Japan, Etsuko was the oldest of three daughters born to George Kazuyuki and Michiko Mikami Ogura.
She immigrated with her family to the United States in 1960 and earned her U.S. citizenship. Her parents established their own landscaping and gardening business. Etsuko helped her parents with their business, working side by side with them while fine tuning her own gardening skills in the process.
On November 28, 1968, Etsuko married her high school sweetheart, Greg Freeman. Married for 51 years, Etsuko and Greg had three children together; two sons and a daughter.
Etsuko was a firm believer in higher education. After raising her family, she went to the University of Utah. She earned not only a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in Art and a Bachelor of Arts degree in Asian Studies, but her Master of Fine Arts degree in Art as well. Her Master of Fine Arts thesis exhibit entitled RITUAL-CEREMONY-IMMORTALITY was a tribute to her family and her Japanese heritage. During her time at the U, she also earned the unofficial title of Studio Mom as she always had food for any hungry art student that happened to wander by.
Etsuko was an accomplished artist in painting and sculpture. She excelled in multiple mediums including watercolor, charcoal, oils and pastels. Her favorite though, was clay. She shared her love of art when she later taught art classes to kids at the Sorenson Multi-Cultural Center as part of an after-school program. She then went on to teach Japanese language classes at Salt Lake Community College. She truly cared about her students. She often made meals for them, especially to celebrate the end of the semester.
Making and sharing food was one of the ways Etsuko would show her love for family and friends. She was an excellent cook who always managed to put together amazing meals out of whatever happened to be in the fridge or cupboards. She preferred to make things from scratch as she wasn’t a fan of preserved or processed foods off the shelf. Get-togethers and holidays were always a treat as she would cook enough food for an army so everyone could go home with tasty leftovers. Her homemade rolls and egg rolls were among many family favorites as well as her garlic salt she was always sure to share.
Etsuko was an avid gardener. She truly had a green thumb. Many plants destined for the garbage were given a second chance at life because she nursed them back to health and made them flourish. She combined her gardening skills and her artistic talents to teach the Ikebana style of floral arranging with her mom for many years. Both she and her mom won many awards for their arrangements, including Best in Show at events like the State Fair and the Spring Home and Garden Show. They were often invited to participate in special events like the Utah Museum of Fine Art’s annual Art in Bloom exhibit.
A stroke in 2012 changed the course of Etsuko’s life. Instead of running full speed ahead like the force of nature that she was, she was forced to slow down. She then learned she had a love of watching Westerns. She watched every episode of The Rifleman, Rawhide, Wagon Train and Bonanza. With the care and help of her husband, Etsuko was able to spend the rest of her days in the comfort of her own home.
Etsuko is survived by her husband Greg; son Todd (Kathy) Freeman; daughter Allison (Travis) Unsworth; son Mitchell Freeman; and granddaughters Ellery and Kambria Unsworth. She is preceded in death by her parents, George and Michiko Ogura.
A private family gathering will be held in Etsuko’s honor. There will be no public viewing or service. In lieu of flowers or anything to the family, please donate to your favorite charity.