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. https://www.gofundme.com/f/alyvia-kylie-zolinski?utm_campaign=p_cp+share-sheet&utm_medium=social&utm_source=facebook
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