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Nicole Girardeau Holcomb, 49, died on Sunday surrounded by her family after suffering complications associated with cancer. She was widely known among her family and friends for her spunk, quick wit, and easygoing, joyful nature.
Niki was born in 1970 at Sheppard Air Force base in Wichita Falls, Texas to parents John and Bobbie (Mercer) Girardeau, both originally from South Georgia. She quickly joined her sister Jann, three years her elder, in challenging her parents’ patience and heart rates with her hair-raising tomboy antics.
“When she was very young, her knees stayed banged up for a year. They didn’t heal for weeks at a time; she kept skinning them falling off a skateboard,” her father recalls. “She’d go down a hill on her Big Wheel towards a speed bump and go airborne, laughing the entire time.”
The family transplanted to Gainesville, Georgia when Niki was three years old. Early playmates became lifelong friends, cemented by childhood mischief which was often led by Niki. During one road trip to the beach, unbeknownst to her parents, Niki and her fellow passengers hung a sign that read “We’ve been kidnapped” in the back window of the family station wagon. The group’s squeals and laughter could often be heard half a block away as they rambled home from the neighborhood in a swirl, garnering the nickname “the Swarm” from their parents.
But Niki’s regards were not limited to the Swarm. As she grew up, she became the quiet glue among friends, family, and classmates. Her quick wit, used most often to bring people together and smooth over tensions, was only outstripped by her kindness. In grade school, a teacher complained that Niki was getting up from her desk and going around the room whenever she finished her work. When her mother asked her why, Niki gave a simple explanation: she thought other students might need help, so she was checking on them.
That inherent kindness only grew as she actively channeled the free-spiritedness of her younger years into being a caring, giving, and loving friend, daughter, wife, and mother. Throughout her life, Niki was constantly attuned to others’ needs and thinking of ways to help, and she drew that energy to give from the love of her family at home.
Niki met her future husband Bill Holcomb during childhood. They began officially dating during her sophomore year of high school, and kept up the relationship when he graduated that year and went off to the University of Georgia. She followed him there, graduating in 1992 with a degree in journalism.
They returned home to Gainesville to start their family, marrying at Lakewood Baptist Church on August 27, 1994. It was as a mother to her two children she found her greatest delight—first with Brady, who arrived in 1998, then with Camille, who was born in 2002.
She had deep reserves of perseverance (which some in her family may also call stubbornness). Having taken up long-distance running in her twenties, she ran several half-marathons. During her first full marathon in 2001, she struggled with severe nausea. Despite being urged by her running partners, her father John and her younger sister Katie, to drop out, Niki crossed the finish line. Afterwards, she promptly took a pregnancy test that confirmed Camille was on the way.
That perseverance eventually combined with her desire to really make a difference in people’s everyday lives and led Niki to her calling. After years of work in real estate marketing, she went back to school to become a nurse, graduating in 2012. She helped scores of mothers in her specialty of labor and delivery before she began work as a health coach in 2015 for HealthWell Solutions at the local Hall County Family Health Clinic. Her supervisor said, “She had a gift with her patients, and she was family to her co-workers.”
Niki loved candor, the beach, the Georgia Bulldogs, classic R&B and pop, and just about any piece of candy she ever met—but her favorites were Jordan almonds. Her friends remember admiring her for having the best hair and the best one-liners. She was known as a clothes horse, which contributed to a related reputation as an overpacker. “Gotta have options!” she would say as she put a week’s worth of outfits into a bag for an overnight.
Niki is survived by her husband Bill and her children Brady and Camille; her mother Bobbie; her father and stepmother John and Judy; her sisters Jann Fulp and Katie Nordholz and their families; her stepsisters Evelyn Fruchter and Kate Kondayen; her stepbrother Jake Range; her mother-in-law and father-in-law, Martha and Larry Holcomb; her sisters-in-law Donna Hickey and Connie Ambrose; and a large extended family.
A funeral service will be held on Saturday, September 7 at 11:00 AM, followed by a reception at Lakewood Baptist Church in Gainesville. The family asks that in lieu of flowers, donations be made to Lakewood Baptist Church or Thumbs Up Mission (https://www.thumbsupmission.org/)
Those wishing to send online condolences to the family may do so at littledavenport.com
Little & Davenport Funeral Home and Crematory, 355 Dawsonville Highway, SW, Gainesville, Ga. 30501 is in charge of arrangements.