Keiko Mori, best known as one of the Utah Jazz’s devoted “Pink Grandmas,” died on Thursday evening. She was 88 years old.
For more than two decades, Mori and her sister Yeiko Homma sat side-by-side as demonstrative and beloved fans at Utah Jazz games. They became a fixture at their seats in section 7, row 12 for their distinctive pink jerseys — sometimes drawing as many admirers as the players for whom they cheered.
The Utah Jazz adopted the Pink Grandmas, gifting them jerseys and even featuring them in a commercial.
After Mori’s family released news of her death, the Utah Jazz official Twitter account sent out a message of condolence: “Sending our love to the family of Keiko Mori — affectionately known as one of the @pinkgrandmas. You’re forever part of the Jazz family.”
Mori was born in Japan, but grew up in the farm town of Ely, Nev., from when she was a toddler. As a child, she dealt with racism stemming from the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor that sparked U.S. involvement in World War II, she told The Tribune this past spring, and she and her family lived under house arrest.
She lived much of her adult life in Murray, married to Jiro Mori (d. 2013), a decorated WWII veteran and an auto mechanic after his military service. She raised four children: Stephanie Mori-Nakao, Jerry Mori, Tom Mori and Theresa Sueoka. She also worked in the flight kitchen for United Airlines for 25 years.
Mori didn’t meet her fellow Pink Grandma until adulthood: Homma grew up in Japan, immigrating to the United States in the 1950s. But they became fast friends, and bonded in part over their love of cooking before finding another calling as Utah Jazz fans in the 1990s.
While no one knows how many home games the Pink Grandmas attended, the best estimate of the family was more than 600. They attended their final game together in May, as the Jazz fought the Golden State Warriors in the playoffs and shortly after Mori was hospitalized following a seizure.
Toward the end of her life, Mori was comforted by well wishers on social media who had come to admire her, according to her granddaughter Kamauri Yeh.
Mori is survived by two sisters (including Homma, 92), her four children, seven grandchildren and two great grandchildren. Her family is planning a celebration of Mori’s life next month.
Mori’s family released a statement to the Tribune on Friday afternoon: ”Keiko was truly a lifelong inspiration and role model to her spouse of 67 years, her children and the many friends she interacted with throughout her life. She had a sweet diplomacy and fun spirit that charmed those who knew her. Whether she was at home, church or basketball games, she was loved.”