Niki and I met in elementary school during summer band in 1968. We became best friends right away, being kindred spirits. We played a duet (she, bassoon; me, oboe) and were selected to play our duet at local elementary schools in the Rancho Cordova area for the students. That's what began our friendship. She played the clarinet as her primary instrument, but also played alto saxaphone in Jr and Sr high stage band. She was a talented musician and won a number of music awards in both junior high and high school band, including the John Philip Souza award, the highest musical honor a high school musician can receive. Niki also participated in the California State Honor Band, where top musicians performed from high schools all over California. We went to Europe together with the Cordova High School Concert Band in 1973 and had wonderful memories from that 3 week excursion, where our band played in venues all over Europe, including a final concert at the Berlin Philharmonic Hall. That trip- once in a lifetime- is something I think about almost every day, as it was a pivotal point in our young lives and impacted our thinking tremendously about how we thought about the world and the USA.
Niki and I were inseparable as friends, and where ever we were, we were always having fun and joking around, doing teenage girl things, like passing notes, etc. We both got pet turtles at Woolworth's, the little baby red-eared sliders and kept them for many years. We liked to try on the wigs at Woolworth's, but the store associates would get mad at us and we would have to leave! We hung around at school whenever our schedules would permit, but mostly saw each other in band classes and after school. Niki was a talented seamstress at a young age, with a real eye for detail. She made us (from patterns) matching pink dresses for our junior high school concerts, which was pretty funny. We were like "opposite" twins, one a dark-haired brunette and the other, a blond, both wearing matching pink dresses. We also liked to spend spare time play the board game "Aggravation" for hours on end, eating sunflower seeds until our tongues were raw. Niki was very competitive and always did her best at everything she did. Niki was also very intelligent and a thinker - an "A" student who enjoyed school and also fun to be around. She and I were always doing silly pranks to people in our band and liked to play practical jokes on our other band friends, especially Tim Dunham, a talented trumpet player and our favorite band friend. During 8th grade, Niki and I decided to do something "daring" and join Civil Air Patrol so that we could meet some "older" high school boys. We had a lot of fun in Squadron 14 out at Mather AFB. We had to march around in 30 degree weather in our high heels and uniforms, freezing, but still following orders from our Squad Commander. We also went on Camppouts (Search and Rescue Missions, called SARCAPS, for short) with the squadron, which were a lot of fun. Niki never complained (much!) and was always a trooper, even when things did not go well for her. She had a stubborn streak and would not back down easily, but stood her ground, which is one of the reasons I admired her so much.
Niki had a robust zest for life and loved music. Music was the glue that started our friendship and continued to keep us together. We both loved Chicago, Doobie Brothers, America, Eagles, Boston, Blood, Sweat & Tears, Aerosmith, James Taylor, Carly Simon, Santana and a number of other popular musicians of the times. After high school, we were able to get an FHA apartment on Howe Avenue together and begin our "adult" phase of life. Niki began attending Capital Christian Center and meeting new people that influenced her life positively. She also completed her B.S. at CSUS in the Nursing Program and began her career as a Registered Nurse with Kaiser Permanente.
I have many wonderful memories of time spent with Niki that will always be with me. She was one in a million and I miss her very much. While our lives went in separate directions in our early 20's, she was and always will be my "best friend". Niki was married in her 30's to a wonderful man, Scott Olin, who had 3 daughters from a previous marriage. She became an instant mom and loved it. Soon after, she became pregnant with her daughter, Leah, now completing high school. Leah is a spitting image of Niki and Niki told me she was was the light in her life. Being a mom to four daughters was her greatest accomplishment. I had reached out to Niki a few years ago and her ex-husband, Scott, said that she had breast cancer, but was ok, so I thought she was in remission. Niki texted me last November 2009, telling me that she was retiring from Kaiser on Nov 5th and moving to a new home. That is the last time I had contact with her. I did not realize the cancer was back and she did not tell me. She said we'd get together "for sure". but unfortunately, despite efforts to meet up with her, that did not happen. She lost her battle with cancer on March 28, 2010. I heard about her passing over a 1 month after it happened, so regretfully, did not know about her memorial. Her body was cremated and her ashes scattered, so no chance to say goodby. Our 35th High School Class reunion fell on the same day as her birthday, August 7th, when she would have been 53 years of age. We gave a toast to Niki at the reunion in her memory, but I really wish I could have seen her just once more. My dream was that we were going to rekindle our friendship in our old age and be best friends again. Sadly, that will not happen. I just want our classmates to know that we lost a beautiful and wonderful human being who lived life to the fullest, but most of all, loved her family and friends. Niki will be missed by all that knew her and loved her.
Rest in peace, my friend. Love always, Leslie
I met Niki in junior high school and , along with Leslie Nye, we had all kinds of laughs and great times together . I will always remember you and treasure the friendship we had together .Rest in peace Niki and so sorry that you will not be there with us at our 35 year reunion . Leslie and I will be sure and have a special toast for you .
Donna Kaminsky (Peters)
Leslie, what a beautiful tribute to your friend. I didn't know either of you in school, but after reading what you wrote, I feel like I know you now. She sounds like an amazing woman and I am so sorry you lost your friend and was not able to be with her as she fought her courageous battle. Keep holding on to your precious memories and I know that you will one day be together again. <3
Watching your best friend, your family, slowly and painfully reach the end of her time here, was spared you by Niki keeping her fate secret.
Your touching tribute shows you embody these words of Eleanor Roosevelt in your heart....
"Enjoy every minute you have with those you love. For no one can take the joy that is past away from you. It'll be there in your heart to live on when the dark days come."
Thank you all for your thoughtful and beautiful comments about my post about Niki. Everyone that knew her realized she was very special person and did a tremendous amount of good in her life for others, both as a mom, sister, friend, and a professional nurse. I was honored to call her my best friend and the memories I keep of our time together are irreplaceable.
Leslie..I remember you and Niki in Mr. Caves band class way back at Mitchell..I always tried to beat out Niki for 1st chair to no avail!!! I used to admire you and your talent too!!! I loved the sound of your oboe!!! Wish I would have tried to learn it!! May you and Niki "play" together another time another dimension!!!
You guys are killing me. When I first heard she passed, I remembered right where she lived
behind White Rock Elementary. We had band together under Mr. Baker in 5th and 6th grade.
She was super sweet with long straight brown hair and bangs. I can remember how she talked
and acted. I didn't see her after that because I was at Mills.
Makes ya think about the limited time we have and how we spend it. Makes me almost want to
get religious.....Not !!!