Nicole Denise Zolinski

June 25, 1977 ~
May 30, 2023

Nicole Denise (Gray) Zolinski, 45, of Middleville, Michigan passed away unexpectedly on Tuesday, May 30th, 2023. Nicole was born in Traverse City, Michigan to David Gray and Michele (Littich) LeBrun on June 25th, 1977.

As the youngest child of three, Nicole was a never-ending source of energy – even as a toddler and would often run circles around her older brother and sister. She graduated from Benzie Central High School in 1995 and went on to earn a Bachelor’s Degree in Criminal Justice from the University of Illinois after taking advantage of the athletic scholarship that she earned as an incredible basketball and softball player. Following in the law enforcement footsteps of her two grandfathers, Nicole began her career as a corrections officer in the Grand Traverse County jail in 2001 before accepting a job with the State of Michigan as a probation/parole officer. During her years in law enforcement, Nicole worked throughout the state and was working for the Michigan Department of Corrections in Barry County for the past three years.

In 2005, Nicole met the love of her life, Erich Zolinski and their journey began. They were married on a perfect fall day in Traverse City in 2008. Nicole’s life-long dream to become a mom came true when they welcomed their first daughter, Alyvia Michele on August 10th, 2009. Almost exactly two years later, their second daughter, Kylie Nicole was born on August 11th, 2011. As a mother, her top priority every day was to take care of her family and be there for them – no matter what it took. As a family, they treasured their time spent together traveling, camping and spending countless hours cheering for Alyvia and Kylie on the soccer field. Nicole was a fierce supporter of her daughters and never missed a chance to watch them compete. Anyone who was ever at a game or track meet could attest that she was often one of the loudest voices cheering from the sidelines.

As a person, there are few words that describe Nicole’s energy and zest for life. She was vibrant, enthusiastic, driven, outspoken, witty and genuine. She was incredibly close to her older siblings, Matthew and Lori, and their bond was one that was admired by many. As a daughter, she was generous with her time and took advantage of every chance she had to travel home to see her family in Traverse City. She deeply loved her family and held fast to the values instilled in her at a young age by the people who knew her since birth. Nicole was an outstanding role model and was deeply respected by all who knew her. She was larger than life in so many ways and definitely left an impression on everyone she came in contact with. Her infectious laugh, insatiable wit and clever comebacks were a given in any conversation or situation.

Nicole is survived by her loving husband Erich and beautiful daughters, Alyvia and Kylie. She is also survived by her parents David (Sandra) Gray, Michele (John) LeBrun, siblings Matt Gray and nieces Margaret, Victoria and Charlotte, Lori (Fred) Wille and niece Anissa, stepsister Kelly Kuhns, stepbrother Casey (Amy) Carnahan and their children. She leaves behind her mother-in-law Marilyn (Richard) Zolinski, Bryan (Melissa) Zolinski, nephews Tyler (Erin), Drew, niece Emily and aunts, uncles and numerous cousins throughout the state and beyond. She was preceded in death by her grandparents, Loyd and Bernarda Littich, Zane and Virginia Gray and her father-in-law, Richard Zolinski.

Nicole’s celebration of life will be held at 1 pm on Saturday, June 3rd at Matthysse Kuiper DeGraaf Funeral Home, 4646 Kalamazoo Ave. SE, Kentwood, Michigan. A public viewing and sharing of memories will take place from 1-4 pm with a light luncheon to follow. Nicole’s wishes were to be cremated and her ashes scattered in the river that she spent many summers swimming in near her childhood home. In lieu of flowers, a GoFundMe account has been established by co-workers at the Michigan Department of Corrections for Nicole’s family. In closing….love you, bye.

Saturday, June 3
1:00pm - 4:00pm

MKD - Kentwood
4646 Kalamazoo Ave. SE
Kentwood, MI 49508

Phone: (616) 455-1535

Leave Your Tribute Message

June 05, 2023 5:57pm
I'm truly at a loss for words because we literally did a training together less than a week of getting this horrible news. You had just presented a module and had the class so attentive and vivacious, as we all known you to do. Just hearing you speak about how things were going for you and your family, and how you were just happy with life and being able to train again. We had just spoke about getting together to complete some weapon trainings later this year, but now this can't be fulfilled. You were truly a blessing to our Department as you touched many people's hearts with your positivity. WE will never forget you. Rest in Heaven!!!!!

- Mckinsey Golfin

June 05, 2023 4:37pm
May you rest in paradise Nicole. Many memories of t-ball, softball & basketball to remember. Caring & comforting vibes to her Family & Friends.

- Holly Ely- Nabity

June 02, 2023 8:31am
I met Nicole a few years ago and worked with her conducting firearms training. In fact, I was scheduled to work with her again, yesterday; Her passing came as a surprise & shock. The description of her in the within obituary, in terms of her zest and energy, was accurate, if not understated. She will be missed by all who knew her.

- Rob Faulk

June 02, 2023 7:00am
Nicole you were such a great combination of kindness and strength. I know you will be watching over your family from above. You will be forever missed.

- Jennifer Barnes

June 01, 2023 7:21pm
Nicole was a fantastic person and Agent. She took me under her wing when I worked in Barry County and taught me a lot of valuable things in being a good probation/parole agent. In the mix of work we always found time to talk about family and she always spoke so highly of both her girls. You will be beyond missed and I’m truly grateful to have known you and learned from you. Until we meet again…

- Kyle Koster

June 01, 2023 5:29pm
Our deepest condolences to Nicole's family. We've been friends with Dave and Michele for many years and have had many adventures together. Our thoughts and prayers are with you in this very difficult time.

- Off & Pat Hobson

June 01, 2023 4:24pm
Erich, I am heartbroken to hear of this news. I have enjoyed following the great times you and the family shared together on social media. May God bring you comfort during this time of overwhelming grief. Praying for you and the girls.

- Dan Solarczyk

June 01, 2023 4:02pm
My Beautiful Nicole your wings were ready but our Hearts were not. RIP my Nicole and fly high until we meet again.

- Cindy Atkinson ( Mrs, Cindy)

June 01, 2023 2:58pm
It was so great to work with you, You helped me learn the New Office and Court in Barry County during the craziness of Covid. Your work ethic and drive were unmatched, Your Love for your Family was always very clear to anyone who ever came in contact with you. Your great sense of humor and laugh will always be remembered. Until we meet again my Friend!

- Patrick England

June 01, 2023 2:08pm
It's hard to believe that you are gone now. I'll miss chit-chatting with you at work and your zeal for life. Take care my friend, hope to catch you on the flipside.

- Douglas Jerzyk

June 01, 2023 1:29pm
My heart is broken but know I will see you again my friend💔❤

- Kerri Selleck

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