Growing up as the second oldest of eight children of Steve and Jill Bolles in Palmetto, Steve Bolles Jr. was just, “little Stevie, the dorky kid,” said his wife, the former Keola Houck, also of Palmetto, who knew him way back then.
But, apparently, there is hope for all young men who start life with less than flattering nicknames because, on Father’s Day, which was Sunday, the now 31-year-old Rev. Steve Bolles Jr. of Church On the Rock in Palmetto learned from his wife that she has officially shredded and replaced his “dorky kid” nickname with, “Greatest Dad in Manatee County.”
“He’s a wonderful father,” said Keola Bolles, 33, who first met Bolles Jr. when she was 9-years-old and he was about 7-years-old and they were both Palmetto kids. “He is generous. He loves abundantly and when we need him to be there, he is always there.”
On Sunday, Bolles Jr.’s dad, Steve Bolles Sr., got emotional when he talked about how far his son has come from those days as a geeky boy.
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“What Keola said is kind of a true statement,” said the 53-year-old Bolles Sr., himself a pastor at Church On the Rock for 14 years who is now operations manager at Gilbert Design Build in Bradenton, a company which remodels kitchens and bathrooms
“When Steve was little he talked with a lisp,” Bolles Sr. said. “We had to take him to speech classes. But besides that he was still kind of dorky.”
“Keola was 11 or 12, pretty and popular and friends with my daughter, Sandra,” Bolles Sr. added. “She would come to our house in Rubonia. Steve had a crush on her. But, back then, he was a kid and she was nearly a teenager.”
Something unexpected happened
Years passed and Bolles’ Jr.’s love for Keola Houck was kept buried in his heart.
But, about six years ago, Houck returned to Palmetto after a broken relationship in another state had left her alone and abandoned with a toddler daughter, Addisyn.
Houck and Bolles Jr. met again when Houck came back to her church family at Church On the Rock.
“I was broken,” Keola Bolles said of that time in her life. “He asked me to go with a group of our friends to Applebees. It was the first time I had just good clean fun in so long. I saw him in a new light. In fact, I thought, ‘I’m going to kiss this boy someday.’”
“I have always loved her but she finally decided she loved me, too,” Bolles Jr. said Saturday night, moments before diving into a steak and artichoke dinner prepared for him by Houk’s mother, Diana Saxton and Laurie Frisbie, the mother of Addisyn’s biological father.
Bolles Jr. married Houck five years ago and adopted Addisyn, now 8. The couple has added 3-year-old twins, Micah and Judah.
“He is definitely a godly man,” said Saxton of her son-in-law. “I love the fact that he adopted Addisyn without hesitation and he is raising my grandchildren to be godly children.”
“A moment comes to mind,” said Frisbie when asked what makes Bolles Jr. a great dad. “I remember hearing Addisyn telling him some feeling she had and Steve replied to her, ‘It’s OK to feel that.’ I just thought, “That is really great advice.’”
“In my family, for generations now, we have had a history where the dads are not really there,” Frisbie added. “I am so happy to see that Steve is breaking that pattern because he is really there and really a great dad and is full of heart and also grounded and practical and responsible.”
Bolles Sr. said that his son has picked up on some of the core beliefs he raised him to appreciate and amplified them.
“I have tried to live my life by the principle, ‘If you can make a positive difference in anyone’s life today, seize the opportunity,’” Bolles Sr. said. “I think Steve Jr. has taken that and run with it bigger than anyone I have ever know. Look what he has done with Keola and her daughter, Addisyn.”
Now complete, Bolles Jr. to take new job
With his family now by his side, Bolles Jr. said he feels complete and ready to take on the world.
In fact, he has just accepted the position of worship leader at The City Church in Ventura, Calif., which is pastored by the nationally known pastor, the Rev. Jude Fouquier, Bolles Sr. said.
The Bolles family head to California on July 31, leaving parents, grandparents, extended family and church family behind.
“The emotions come in every day,” Bolles Jr. said. “We’re excited about the doors of opportunity God is opening for us but at the same time we are moving away from the people we love the most. It’s sad but we know we are doing the right thing.”
“I am discouraged they are moving so far away but I am excited that Steve knows the Lord has called him to this position,” Bolles Sr. said. “Pastor Fouquier’s greatest calling is to raise up pastors and Steve’s dream is to pioneer a church in Tampa. This will give him the tools to fulfill that.”