LAWRENCEVILLE — Jennifer Niday loved her job, she enjoyed celebrating holidays with her sons, and always helped her mother with technology.
If you met her, family and friends said, you were her friend within moments. Niday genuinely loved people.
Those are the memories those closest to Niday, 36, have of her after she died on Monday following an accidental fall over the weekend. Christine Muller, who met Niday because their sons each attended Kids R Kids of Grayson together, said she met Niday about five years ago, but had become close in the last two years.
“Jennifer was such a warm, compassionate, positive and happy person,” Muller said. “She was such a beautiful person inside and out, and I will always remember her for her amazing smile and outgoing personality.”
Niday’s mother, Cathy Doppel, agreed.
“She was very energetic, very positive, had a caring personality, a joy to be around,” Cathy Doppel said. “She’d meet somebody and was their friend immediately.”
Allyson Locsin, director of Kids R Kids, said she knew Niday for about six years, since her sons came to the facility.
“She’s a lady who has touched many lives in the Gwinnett area, from being a teacher to an assistant principal, to an all-around good person,” Locsin said. “She is always a happy, bubbly person, always talks to the kids when she comes in, cuts up with staff, always has a smile on her face.”
Niday and her husband Jeremy were married for 15 years, and have two sons, Jackson, 10, and Jacob, 7. Visitation is from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. on Friday at Eternal Hills Memory Gardens in Snellville. A funeral is scheduled for 2:30 p.m. on Saturday at St John Neumann Catholic Church in Lilburn. In lieu of flowers, the family has established a Jeremy, Jackson and Jacob scholarship fund.
Niday worked in Gwinnett County Public Schools for 13 years. She began as a teacher at Stripling Elementary in 2000, and moved to McKendree Elementary in 2008. Niday served as the assistant principal for fourth grade and fifth grade this school year.
“Mrs. Niday has touched many of our lives here at McKendree Elementary,” Principal Loretta Denmark wrote in a letter to parents. “Her smile, energy, and love for our students and school will always be remembered and she will be greatly missed.”
Denmark said school officials didn’t make an announcement about Niday at school because they realized some families may wish to discuss it with their children at home. The school has counselors and other grief professionals on hand for children and adults, Denmark said.
“Words cannot express the sadness we feel today as we have lost a leader, a friend and an advocate for children,” Denmark wrote.
Born in New Jersey, Niday graduated from Crestwood High School in Mountain Top, Pa. After graduation, she moved to Georgia to attend the University of West Georgia. Her mother said Niday cried the whole way down to Georgia, but met her husband about a month later when he was a customer during a summer job at a pizza restaurant, the Italian Oven, on Jimmy Carter Blvd.
“He liked her so much he got a job there as a cook,” Cathy Doppel said.
Niday earned a teaching degree from UWG, master’s and specialist degrees from Georgia State University. Recently, she had talked with friends and family about pursuing a doctorate in education.
A team mom for her sons’ sports teams, her father also said she went above and beyond for holiday celebrations with her sons, for Halloween, Christmas and Easter.
“She was a wonderful person,” her father Zach Doppel said. “She always had time for everybody.”
Her parents said she didn’t want to become a principal because she wanted to spend summers with her husband and sons. Her mother said she would miss Niday especially when it came to downloading pictures, helping with her iPhone and making videos.
“She’s so talented,” Cathy Doppel said. “Everything she touches.”
Added her father, “Her hobby was her family.”