In tribute to Nikki Delamotte: Journalist, connector, friend, and inspiration

Perhaps fittingly, I was at the offices yesterday morning when I learned that arts and culture reporter Nikki Delamotte’s life had tragically been cut short. Though she and I had only worked together for a short time, the news knocked the wind out of me—I had admired her writing long before meeting her personally, and my respect for her only grew during a short but satisfying collaboration working together to promote FreshWater’s recent On the Ground series.

Seeing the massive way the Cleveland creative community has rallied around her memory only affirms what I already knew: Nikki was a true talent and a true friend.

It’s hard to believe Nikki is gone, but her legacy looms large. She built a well-deserved following as one of the bright spots on Cleveland’s media scene, shining a spotlight on our city’s most compelling people and places (often before they were widely known as such). A born storyteller, she relished the "chance to tell stories about so many Clevelanders that make me really proud to live here”—as related in this pinned Twitter thread. Friends, colleagues, and family referred to her as kind, curious, warm-hearted, whip-smart, and fun.

Along with contributing to and Cleveland Scene, Nikki was once a regular contributor to FreshWater Cleveland (before my time at the publication). Senior news editor Karin Connelly Rice remembers Nikki as someone she admired “both as a writer and a person,” as well as “a brilliant journalist, [whose] curiosity and enthusiasm always shined in whatever new business she was writing about.”

“I am shocked and saddened by this news,” shares Karin. “I always believed Nikki was destined for greatness. It’s a tragedy that her light and beauty was snuffed out too early.”

Freelancer and former Street Level editor Doug Guth also paid tribute to Nikki, whom he calls "a talented writer with a self-deprecating sense of humor and a tirelessly good-natured, upbeat attitude rare in today's cynical world. She will be sorely missed in Cleveland's journalism community and beyond.”

Our managing photographer Bob Perkoski shared the image above of Nikki, which he captured when they were on-site together covering the new Cleveland Institute of Art building in 2015. "I always enjoyed working with Nikki,” says Bob. "She was just the sweetest person and such a talented writer.”

Though Nikki will be missed beyond words, her words will live on in the various publications to which she contributed, a book she authored about Cleveland in 2016, and the social media channels that she made a better place. Click here to read Nikki’s past work on FreshWater Cleveland.

Thank you, Nikki, for the indelible mark you made on Cleveland, for telling important stories with both function and flair. You'll be missed beyond measure.

For those who want to help Nikki's family, an online GoFundMe campaign has been set up to help pay for memorial services and other necessities for Nikki's mom, Jo, and boyfriend, Bob—please click here to contribute or read more. There will also be a fundraiser and raffle held at The Side Quest in Lakewood this Friday, November 16, from 5 p.m. to close, in which 15 percent of all sales will go toward Nikki's family. An open mic will also be set up for anyone who would like to speak or share memories about Nikki. Tonight, there will be a candlelight vigil at Edgewater Park at 6:30 p.m. near the Cleveland script sign.

Read more articles by Jen Jones Donatelli.

As a Cleveland native and enthusiast, Jen Jones Donatelli is thrilled to take on the managing editor role at FreshWater. As a full-time freelance writer and editor for more than a decade, Jen has contributed to publications including Redbook, Budget Travel, GOOD, Playboy, Thrillist, Cleveland Magazine, Los Angeles Confidential, San Francisco, Ohio Today, and many more. She is also a contributing editor for Destination Cleveland and a proud graduate of Ohio University's E.W. Scripps School of Journalism.
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