Johnson, known affectionately as Nikki to her family and friends, spent her childhood in Norwalk, Iowa, before moving to the Tri-Cities in high school and graduating from David Crockett High School.
While much of her family trickled back to Iowa, Nikki found many reasons to stay in the area for more than 15 years, one of them being her 10-year-old daughter Alyssa.
Nikki’s aunt, Shalynn Tickle, said that her family is heartbroken, but also struggling to cover funeral costs to have Nikki buried in her childhood home since she didn’t have life insurance.
“At 32, you just don’t think something like this is going to happen,” Shalynn said.
The family has set up a fundraiser to help cover the cost of transporting Nikki back to Iowa and the funeral costs. Alyssa is living with other family members, Shalynn said, and any excess money will go into a trust fund for her.
Nikki was born on September 5, 1985, in Peoria, Illinois. In addition to her daughter, she leaves behind her parents, four siblings, grandparents, aunts, uncles and friends who gathered in Norwalk on Saturday evening for a memorial service to remember her and celebrate her life.
“I had so many people, mostly just strangers who have reached out to me over the past two weeks just to share their stories of what Nikki meant to them,” Shalynn said.
“She was the kind of person who would give to a fault. Even if she was going through her own problems or having a bad day she was always able to make people smile.”
Email Jessica Fuller at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow Jessica on Twitter @fullerjf91. Like her on Facebook at www.facebook.com/jfullerJCP.