Jeff Stephenson, P.E., is the Team Leader of [...]
Every workplace needs people who create a bright spot of cheerfulness on a regular basis. Lauren Spruiell Nickles was our Little Miss Sunshine. For almost fourteen years, Lauren set a tone of grace, kindness and laughter that was contagious. She came to us right out of Auburn University’s Samuel Ginn College of Engineering. Our President, Jim Meads, met her when he spoke to a group of students about careers in transportation engineering. Lauren’s words, written for a later presentation at one of Sain’s Girl Day events, recounted that experience:
“During my senior year I started to become very nervous about what I was going to do after I had finished my schooling UNTIL one of my classes hosted this really great speaker! The projects that he talked about really got me excited and I knew that I just HAD to get an interview with that company!”
Lauren scored that interview and was hired on the spot. She soon became a highly valued member of our traffic engineering team. Her interpersonal skills were complemented by a sharp mind, strong work ethic, and a natural aptitude for traffic engineering. During her tenure with Sain, Lauren trained many new staff members on signal design, microsimulation modeling, and traffic studies. She was a smart lady!
Beyond producing excellent work, Lauren affected Sain Associates’ culture in so many lasting ways. She loved food, and any opportunity to fellowship over a meal or snack was, in her mind, a great way to improve a work day. Because of her love for all breakfast foods, Lauren started a tradition we call “Breakfast Buffet”. It is a covered dish event full of carb-loading fun. Who wouldn’t want to start a work day like that! Lauren also loved her snacks and candy. Her desk drawers were stuffed with all kinds of goodies that she was quick to share. Her love for sour straws was legend.
Lauren was very competitive. She was a runner and loved to compete in road races. Several of our employees have memories of competing alongside Lauren in 5K and marathon races. Lauren was not just competitive in things she did well. She once threatened that she and the ladies would beat the pants off the men (actually said in a more colorful way) in a Sain Girls vs. Guys golf outing, never minding the fact that she had never played golf before and two of our men were excellent golfers. You had to love her spirit and enthusiasm!
Lauren’s servant heart made her an enthusiastic supporter of any charity work that Sain undertook. Whether she was packing Christmas gift boxes for Samaritan’s Purse, sacking rice at Stop Hunger Now, or raising money for noble causes, Lauren threw her whole heart into helping others. Her enthusiasm made you want to join alongside and do your part.
Lauren’s battle with cancer took her away from our daily work life on three occasions over the past five years. Always she would stay in touch and ask how things at the office were going. Sometimes we were blessed with a visit that included lots of hugs and laughter. She inspired us with her courage and made us strive to be better people. On March 1st our dear friend passed into heaven. Our grief in loss is profound but softened by so many happy memories of a life well lived. So as we say our final goodbyes to our sunshine, we repeat this Hebrew proverb “Say not in grief she is no more, but live in thankfulness that she was.”