One of my oldest friends, Nikki, passed away on November 29, 2022. Nikki and I have had ups and downs as friends, more than friends and confidantes. It hurts to see her come to her end with so much life ahead of her. The picture below is how I remember her. Here is her obituary:

Obituary for Nicole “Nikki” Leigh Mills Hendrickson

Beloved Teacher Loved Adventure, Her Children, And Animals

Nicole “Nikki” Leigh Mills Hendrickson, 49, gained her wings on November 29, 2022. She was born on September 7, 1973, in Chattanooga, Tennessee.

Nikki graduated from Hixson High School, grew up and lived on Signal Mountain where she taught at Sunshine Learning Center, and was a much-loved substitute teacher at Thrasher Elementary. She later moved to Cumming, Ga., and continued her love of education as a special education substitute teacher and paraprofessional, all while raising her children and maintaining a loving home for her family.

Nikki’s children were the love of her life. She was so proud of them. Nikki loved adventures and making life fun for Avery, Colin, Cay, Morgan, and all their friends. Nikki spent many days on baseball, soccer, softball, and flag football fields as the proudest Mom. Nikki also passed on her love of the equestrian world to Avery, helping Avery to achieve her dream of owning her own horse. She was a beautiful soul with an infectious laugh who loved her family and friends. She was passionate about everything in life, loved deeply, and worked hard to achieve her goals. There was no one quicker to spark an uncontrollable laugh or with more determination and grit. Nikki loved animals, including cats, dogs, horses, pigs, a cow, a mini horse, mini donkeys, and many other creatures. Nikki was beautiful and vibrant and will be missed beyond words; she was truly one of a kind.

Nikki was preceded in death by her parents, William “Bill” Mills and Susan Humphreys Burke.

She is survived by her daughter, Avery Hendrickson; son, Colin Hendrickson; stepdaughter, Cay Hendrickson Plaskett (Bentley); husband, Kevin Hendrickson; sisters Kelly Leiper (Mark) and Cori Mills Barber (Daniel); brother, Kevin Ray (Susan); aunt, Alice Humphreys White; niece, Morgan Leiper (Derek); stepmother, Debbie Mills Maple (Jay); stepsisters Nicole Pittard (Sam) and Gina Wright (Rick); stepbrother Chris Fincher; mother in law, Clarice Hendrickson; father in law, Charles Hendrickson (Linda); sister in law Kimberly Hendrickson (Tab Gray); several cousins and other nephews and nieces; close friend Greg Wilson; and dog, Pilot.

The family is comforted by knowing Nikki is at peace and surrounded by her Mom, Dad, and the hundreds of animals Nikki rescued or adopted over her lifetime including Shadow, Hampton, Snoop Dog, Chip, Brooklyn, Sadie, Foster, Goose, and Brownie. The family would also like to express gratitude to the multiple friends who have supported Nikki.

A Celebration of Nikki’s life will be held at the Mountain Arts Community Center, 809 Kentucky Avenue, Signal Mountain, Tn., on Wednesday, Dec. 28. Visitation is from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. followed by a service from 12:30 p.m. to 1:15 p.m. officiated by Pastor Caleb Pitkin of Signal Mountain United Methodist Church.

A burial for the family will follow at Chattanooga Memorial Park.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Humane Educational Society or the McKamey Animal Shelter in Chattanooga, Tn.

Announcement is by Chattanooga Funeral Home, Crematory & Florist – Valley View Chapel.