Nichole Christensen

July 10, 1975 to December 24, 2017
A brilliant crime scene analyst
Nichole Lynn Gradinscak-Christensen, whose quirky sense of humor made her a legend among friends and family, as well as at the Oakland County Sheriff’s Office where her brilliant crime-scene analysis helped solve cases, died on Christmas Eve at her home in Waterford, Michigan—her adored husband and family members at her side. She was just 41.
Known to most as Nikki, The Polish Princess to husband William (Bill) Christensen, Nichole was a fun-loving, boisterous, perennially-youthful woman with unruly, dark hair and a wicked smile. Prone to T-shirts and jeans, she was a stunner when dressed up, her no-nonsense attitude captured in one of her favorite phrases, “This is me. Take it or leave it.”

Nichole’s long and courageous battle with breast and brain cancer taught many people the meaning of bravery.

Born July 10, 1975, in Farmington Hills, MI, to Gregory Thomas Gradinscak, a prototype manager, and Linda Lou, a school bus driver, Nichole grew up with her older brother Jeffrey and many cousins and friends.
Cousin Jamie Gradinscak wrote about the two girls growing up together: Nichole “was my first best friend, my best everything, she was there! We lived one mile from each other; we rode bikes to meet, we walked to meet, we drove to meet. We had countless sleepovers, family vacations, holidays… Life was good.”

Jamie also mentioned their “hours on the phone, and days of poker,” adding, “We were twins, life friends.”

After achieving a BA in Forensics and Law Enforcement at Madonna University, in Livonia, MI, Nichole graduated from the Oakland Community College Police Academy, fulfilling her CSI dream. After completing her formal education, she joined the Oakland County Sheriff’s Office in 2000. Working in the Oakland County Jail as a Corrections Deputy before being assigned to the Sheriff’s Office Crime Lab as a Forensic Lab Specialist, Nichole secured numerous accolades as a latent finger print examiner.
Passionate about her job, Nichole was instrumental in securing convictions for major crimes, including a conviction for the murder of a fellow police officer in Oak Park. Deputy Nichole Christensen’s latent finger print discipline was legendary among law enforcement.
“Boy, did she have stories!” recalled her cousin Jamie. Spunky, wild, fun-loving, she also was the life of any party and loved to make people laugh. When it came to telling jokes, her husband said, “She could compete with the best of them.” Only trouble was her jokes were often laced with sarcasm and sometimes needed explaining.
Deputy Sheriff Bill Christensen and Nichole met at the Oakland County Sheriff’s Office, where both worked. Both single and friends, each was dating someone else when the other was free. Then, in 2008, they were among a group of mutual friends at a campground when “the stars aligned,” Bill said. They married August 29, 2009.
He adored her biting sense of humor.
The Queen of the Misquoted Cliché (“You’re walking on thin water”…“You get more with pennies than you do for a dollar”), Nichole could be brutally honest, both with herself and others. “Let’s just say some people crossed the street to move out of her way,” Bill Christensen said. Her eye contact “could burn holes in you.”

She collected purses and turtle knickknacks and loved seeing turtles in the wild. Borderline OCD when it came to neatness, Nichole craved organization, both at home and at work.

To say the gal who wore a tank top inscribed with “Thug Life”, shaved her head into a Mohawk, and wore a gang-style bandana tied around her forehead to better battle cancer had presence—well that would be a massive understatement.

Work remained her passion through it all, and she continued at the Sheriff’s Office Crime Lab while undergoing chemotherapy. Her common theme throughout her illness was that she wanted to get back to work as soon as possible. She also made others laugh a lot during those intensely painful days; you didn’t dare be sad around her.

Although Nichole longed to have children of her own, that missing link was filled by her stepdaughter, Hannah Christensen. “They were like two peas in a pod,” Bill said. “It was as if Hannah were her biological child.”
Nichole loved being with family, especially if it involved camping and/or casinos. A risk-taker if there ever was one, the woman who fought crime also loved to pour quarters into the slots. Her cocktail of choice was either a Bud Light or a weak Rum-and-Coke.
Despite her rough and tough exterior, her shocker voice, husband Bill said, “Nikki was a saint and deeply caring person on the inside.” That she passed away on Christmas Eve was somehow appropriate, he added.
“She wanted to make an indelible mark,” he said. “She didn’t want to be forgotten.”
As if that were possible.
“When you think of Nik, you smile,” her cousin Jamie said. “Her wit, her sarcasm, her love for life drew you in.” Her many life-long friends testified to Nichole’s endless love for people. “She had a gift for caring, passion, kindness, strength, encouragement, and loyalty,” her cousin added. “She was there for all.”

Nichole is survived by her husband, Bill Christensen and stepdaughter, Hannah; her parents, Greg and Linda Gradinscak; brother Jeff Gradinscak and sister-in-law Heather; nieces Lilly, Kayla, Bayleigh, and nephew Jaxson. And her cousin Jamie Gradinscak.

A Memorial Service will be held at 5 pm January 14, 2016 with a Memorial Gathering from 11am to 5 pm at Coats Funeral Home 8909 Dixie Hwy Clarkston, MI 48348

Funeral arrangements entrusted to
Prepared by Katharine B. Lowrie at

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  2. Nickie Hunsberger

    I met Nikki about 20 years ago. She was friends with my sister in law, Lori. She was an absolute riot! I use to wear this cool multi colored scarf with whatever blouse I was wearing and she would constantly tell me how much he liked it. Well, at Lori’s baby shower, I took it off and gave it to her and you’d have thought I was giving her gold. What a sweetheart she was. Bill, I don’t know you but I just heard about her death today and I wanted to send my prayers to you and your family.

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