Saturday, March 25, 2006
2:00 PM EST
Reeths-Puffer High School Rocket Center Theater
At the family's request memorial contributions are to be made to those listed below. Please forward payment directly to the memorial of your choice.
Hackley VNS Hospice
888 Terrace St., Muskegon, MI 49440
Life Story / Obituary
Don't be afraid to take chances -you never know when you'll get another chance to try something. These words reflect in each memory of Nikki Radel, a beloved wife, daughter, and friend, who tried to live her own life by them. She embraced every single one of life's moments and experiences, almost as though she were carefully crafting every single minute to be the best it could possibly be. Whether it was her family and friends, or school and work, she gave one hundred and ten percent to each relationship and obligation she had, but not once did she make the mistake of taking herself or life too seriously. Above all else, she had the rare ability to turn the worst situation into the best occasion with little more than the sparkle of her blue eyes and a flash of her great smile.
If you were born in the 1970's, chances are you can hardly remember a time when you didn't make calls from your cell phone, download music into your iPod, or send emails to your family and friends. But the greatest thing about being born at that time is that you can also remember a time when you were lucky if you had a cordless phone, it was very cool to listen to a cassette tape on your walkman, and most homes didn't have a personal computer. Nikki was one of these children, the lucky ones if you will, born into an amazing world at a very extraordinary time. Born May 23, 1977 on a beautiful spring day in Muskegon, Michigan, Nikki was the first child of Frederick Janice (Trapp) Smith, Jr. From the start they were in awe of their little baby girl, she would be their first everything, first smile, first step, first word. She would not, however, be their last, as she would soon have a little baby sister named Meghan.
Growing up, it is a little girl's dream to have their very own pony. Parents usually argue that a pony is a very big responsibility and requires more care than a little girl could possibly give, but Nikki proved that this argument was wrong. Her grandpa bought her a pony when she was just seven years old, and Nikki fell in love. She spent countless hours grooming the pony, and even more time riding her with friends. Nikki was a very sociable child, and made friends easily. Some of her favorite times growing up were attending birthday parties and, when you have a lot of friends, you are invited to an endless number of birthday parties. Nikki also like spending time with her family, whether going fishing with her dad and grandpa or playing school and dress up with her younger sister, she was always devoted to them. Even as a child she never let a moment pass her by without taking the opportunity to fill it with something she enjoyed, even if it was simply riding her bike or playing a game of UNO.
As a teenager Nikki attended Reeths-Puffer Schools and, unlike most teens, getting her there every day was never an issue. She didn't want to miss a minute of it. From four years of marching band to earning a place in the National Honor Society, Nikki made the most of the time she had there. One of the best parts of all is that she got to take her favorite childhood fantasy play and turn it into reality, donning stunning gowns at Christmas dances and proms. One of her favorites was a beautiful blue sequined dress she wore to a Christmas dance. Nikki liked to refer to it as her mermaid dress; not only did it fit her to a T, but each blue sequin sparkled like the ocean. She was the belle of the ball, especially when she hit the dance floor with style and grace. Dance was a talent that she had perfected with many dance lessons at Sika's. Apart from dance, she also loved to go rollerblading and biking. When Nikki graduated from Reeth's-Puffer High School in 1995, it was felt with sweet sorrow. Like finishing the last chapter of a really good book, she didn't want it to end, but felt excited by the prospect starting a new one.
Always taking her family and friends into consideration when making a big decision, Nikki decided not to stray too far from home and enrolled at Muskegon Community College after graduation. Deciding to take further advantage of the educational opportunities in her hometown, she went on to graduate from Baker College with an Associates Degree in medical insurance billing. Almost immediately, Nikki found herself with a career she adored and surrounded by great coworkers at Muskegon Family Care Dental Clinic. Now, there was only one piece missing in her life, the love of a special someone. Although she met many men, and dated a few, like everything else she had done in her life, she could hear the words of her middle school teacher Mrs. Green in her head, "There are lots of fish in the ocean - don't give up until you catch the big one. " In 2001 while at a wedding reception, Nikki reunited with her old high school friend, Nicholas Radel. Over the years, she and Nick had simply lost touch, but this time was different, she wasn't about to let her big fish get away. Just a few years later Nikki reeled in the line, when she and Nick were wed on August 28, 2004. Following the ceremony they honeymooned in the Bahamas, where they literally got swept away in the middle of Hurricane Frances. Like everything in life, Nikki took her whirlwind honeymoon in stride, bringing home fun memories, pictures, and stories to share with family and friends.
Back in Michigan the couple became very accustomed to their new life as husband and wife. As always, Nikki was very family oriented, only now, with the addition of Nick's family, she had twice as many people to enjoy. Some of her fondest times were bantering back and forth with her father-in-law, whom she endearingly referred to as Pa. Nick's family embraced her as well, certain that in the entire world there could not have been anyone more perfect for him. And, it was true. Both Nikki and Nick had an affinity for many of the same things including the outdoors and traveling. One of their favorite trips was camping on Mackinac Island over Labor Day weekend. Nikki knew that there was not enough time on this earth to sit idly by and do nothing, so she never let a moment pass where she wasn't having fun and making the best of everything. With each and every experience she shared with her family and friends, a countless number of fond memories were made.
After being diagnosed with cancer, Nikki displayed a tremendous amount of courage and never gave up hope that tomorrow might bring a cure. She never gave up, vowing that she would not go down without a fight and that's exactly what she did -fought until the very end. Nikki Radel, age 28, died Wednesday, March 15, 2006. It is most common to conclude the story of a person's life with a statement saying how much they will be missed, and as true as this may be, it is not what Nikki wanted. What mattered most to her were the people in her life and the time she had with them. It is Nikki's request that you celebrate and treasure each of these great moments you shared with her, not looking at this as the end of a life, but instead the celebration of a life.
Please visit Nikki's personal memory page at www.lifestorynet.com where you may share a memory, order flowers or make a memorial contribution.