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Great Falls —John Michael Bolta, 37, passed away on January 13, 2014 after a valiant two year battle with leukemia. John's unshakeable faith, contagious smile, and infectious laugh has left imprints on the hearts of many who championed alongside him during his fight. He will be remembered as a man unchanged by circumstance who fought and won through VICTORY in Jesus.
A memorial service will be held on Saturday, January 18, 2014 at 11am at Great Falls Christian Center, 4114 N. Park Trail, with reception to follow. Cremation has taken place under the direction of O'Connor Funeral Home.
Born October 11, 1976 in Great Falls, to Gary Bolta and Judy Bolta, John the youngest of 3 siblings came as a beautiful surprise to his family. With blonde hair and striking blue eyes, John was described as joyful and displayed an early love for all things mechanical. His mom recalled a young John staring intently at a backhoe hard at work, with his hands in his pockets he stood content for hours. That love grew and eventually led John to drive truck for a living; his favorite being when he would alternate between hopping in a semi and delivering freight locally in Great Falls.
In 2006 John met his future wife Schelli in the young adult group of their church, Great Falls Christian Center. You could describe it as 'love at first sight', but really it was hearing each other's hearts for the Lord that sealed the deal for their relationship. In March of 2007, John and Schelli began their life as husband and wife and laughed and loved with abandon. Despite several hiccups in their first few years of marriage, including a faulty foundation on their first home that left them laughing often in 18 inches of water with a shop vac, what got them through was their perspective and ability to laugh at even the hardest of circumstances. Those skills developed early on would prove to be paramount in the larger battle they would face together against cancer.
In September of 2011 John fell in love with a blue eyed beauty who stole his heart and refused to give it back, she would later learn to call him 'Daddy.' His daughter Kherington became his world as pictures of her smile replaced photos of big rigs in his phone. Delving into fatherhood head first; he took joy in late night rock-a-byes, bedtime stories complete with sound effects, butterfly kisses, and tickling her little toes. Even through multiple hospital stays and the weakness and fatigue caused by treatment, John never missed an opportunity to give love and affection to his baby girl.
In August of 2012 John was diagnosed with a very aggressive form of leukemia and began treatment on the sixth floor of Benefis. Unable to handle the equally aggressive treatment needed to combat the disease, John's family was notified that he would most likely pass away from multiple organ failure just 10 days after his diagnosis. With incredible fight and determination John rose from his bed that very day and slowly walked to the doorway where he proudly shook his older brother's hand who he looked up to and loved dearly. Everyone cried tears of joy, and John never stopped walking. Making a miraculous recovery John was able to see his little girl's first birthday and enjoyed 7 months of full remission. He powered through the recovery process and spent those months taking long drives, dancing with his girls in their living room, and enjoying a brisk Coca-Cola as often as he could.
In June of 2013 John relapsed and after 4 additional rounds of chemo and countless complications the cancer became resistant and unmanageable. John was given a terminal prognosis in October of 2013, and he and Schelli dedicated his last months to laughing, and loving, and living TOGETHER. They were even able to see a Seahawks game in Seattle (a lifelong dream of John's) thanks to the loving kindness and generosity of their wonderful friends. Most will remember John as the fun loving, pick up driving, mountain climbing, puppy loving, light to this world that he was. He needed so little to be happy about so much.
John's goal in life was to reflect Jesus in EVERY situation and he certainly succeeded. Countless followed as he smiled through pain, laughed through tragedy, and LOVED without limits. You could never look at his life, his journey, or his fight and see anything but VICTORY. He may have had cancer, but cancer never had him. He is with Jesus, and while the Earth mourns his loss…Heaven is rejoicing.
He leaves behind his wife of 7 years, Schelli Bolta, his 2 year old daughter Kherington Bolta, his mother Judy Bolta, his big brother Mark Wilson, and his faithful pup Freedom.
He was met in Heaven by his father and hero, Gary Bolta, who prepared the way in Heaven 10 years ago.
In lieu of flowers, an account has been set up to assist in the care of John's young daughter, Kherington. Any contributions can be sent to Montana Federal Credit Union, 901 8th Ave South, Great Falls MT, 59405, directed to and written out to 'Bolta Benefit.'
The Bolta family would also like to thank the modern day heroes on the sixth floor of Benefis, the wonderful staff at Sletten Cancer Institute, and the compassionate angels of Peace Hospice. You have left a mark on our hearts that can never be erased, thank you for becoming family.
Condolences can be left online at www.oconnorfuneralhome.com.
Published in Great Falls Tribune on Jan. 16, 2014