(April 3, 2013, in Seoul, S. Korea)
Dick Bolles, more formally known as Richard Nelson Bolles, is the most widely-read and influential leader in the whole career field. and author of the best-selling job-hunting book in the world, What Color Is Your Parachute? A Practical Manual for Job-Hunters and Career-Changers, 2016, (more than 10,000,000 copies sold to date, in annual editions). He is credited with founding the modern career counseling field, and is often described as the field's #1 celebrity. or “America’s
top career expert” (AARP). Dick
is listed in Who’s Who In America, and Who’s Who In the World and has been featured in Fortune, Money Magazine, Business Week, The Economist, Fast Company, TIME, Forbes. and Readers Digest. He has appeared numerous times on TV (The Today Show on NBC, CNN, CBS, Fox, ABC) on radio (NPR and PBS), and other media outlets. He is a member of Mensa, and SHRM.
Dick has a business called eParachute.com. Dick and his wife, Marci, are partners with Dick's son, Gary, and Gary's partner, Eric Barnett. You can find the link on the home page.
Family. Dick Bolles was born in Milwaukeee, Wisconsin in 1927, the son of Donald Clinton Bolles, an editor for the Associated Press, and Frances Bolles, a gifted amateur tennis player. Dick's maternal grandfather was Charles Fifield, a Judge, and his paternal grandfather was Stephen Bolles, the editor of the Janesville (Wisconsin) Daily Gazette for many years, until he was elected U.S. Congressman from the Janesville district—now famous as Paul Ryan's home district.
Dick's parents gave birth to two other children, and they named them Donald Fifield Bolles (16 months younger than Dick), and Ann Fifield Bolles (three years younger). Both graduated from high school, and then attended Beloit College, in Beloit, Wisconsin. Ann went on to become an American Airlines stewardess, before marrying and raising five sons. She died in 2011. Don Jr. (as he was called) grew up and also married, eventually raising six children. As an adult, he became an Associated Press reporter, and then moved to the Phoenix (Arizona) Republic. There he became a famous investigative reporter, but was assassinated in 1976, at age 48, when a bomb was put under his car in downtown Phoenix and set off remotely, electronically. The story of his assassination and the subsequent investigation by a newly-formed entity called the Investigative Reporters Association, drew worldwide attention. There is now a tribute room to Don in Washington D.C.'s Newseum, as the first newspaperman to be martyred on U.S. soil, in modern times.
Childhood. Back in 1930, Dick's family moved from Wisconsin to a suburb of New York City, Mt. Vernon, N.Y., and then to Teaneck, N.J. Dick contracted double lobar pneumonia at age 5, in the days before antibiotics, requiring a round the clock nurse. He missed a year of school, accordingly. Once he recovered, he went on to attend Whittier Elementary School and then Teaneck Jr. and Sr. High School, graduating in 1945. Upon graduation he served in the U.S. Navy (1945-1946) and upon discharge worked at the U.S. Army Post Office in N.Y.C., then at the Stock Clearing Corporation on Wall Street, and finally as a speed typist for CARE (in rigid tests, he typed 110 words per minute on a manual typewriter), prior to college.
Academic Background. The author’s academic background is in engineering, physics, and Biblical studies. He attended the Massachusetts Institute of Technology the first two years of his college education (1946-1948), majoring in Chemical Engineering. He then transferred to Harvard College for the next two years, majoring in Physics, and graduating with a Bachelor of Arts degree, cum laude. He then attended the General Theological Seminary (Episcopal) in New York City, where he graduated with a Bachelor's Degree in Sacred Theology. Invited to stay on, as a Fellow and Tutor, he then earned a Master's Degree (later declared equivalent to a doctoral degree), again in Sacred Theology, with a major in the New Testament. He is a lifelong member of MENSA, and the recipient of three honorary doctorates (from John F. Kennedy University, General Theological Seminary, and the California College of Arts and Crafts).
Ordination. Upon completing seminary, Dick was ordained to the Sacred Ministry of the Episcopal Church, December 19, 1950. He first served churches in Palisades Park, N.J. and Ridgefield, N.J., then was called to be rector of St. John's Church in Passaic N.J. when it's previous pastor was called to be Suffragan Bishop of the Diocese of Newark (N.J.). Dick served there as rector from 1958 to 1966, along the way acquiring two assisting full-time clergy, (The Rev. Eugene Avery and The Rev. Lewis Sexton). During those years, Dick objected to the fact that there were three different segregated Episcopal churches in the city of Passaic: one for blacks, one for Italians, and his own, largely perceived as white country club members at prayer. He initiated discussions with the governing bodies of all three Churches, and in 1964 secured their agreement to merge, thus creating the first integrated parish in the State of New Jersey. Also during his tenure there, he learned of alleged corruption in the (then) Board of Education, and organized a series of large public protests by civic leaders from the Chamber of Commerce, the local daily newspaper, the banks, the Superintendent of Education, clergy and others, to call the corrupt practices to the public's attention (Dick had learned of this corruption from a heroic member of his congregation, who, under duress, had been ordered to draw up the crooked contracts for his employer, and then reported it to Dick). The protests gained nationwide attention.
His Origins as A Writer. Dick soon gained fame for his preaching. His sermons were always fully written out. Typically, he began working on them around 4 p.m. Saturday afternoon, and continued working on them through the night, until 5 a.m. He would then go over to the Church, just across the street—sleepless—and in the empty church, he repeatedly preached from the manuscript, until he knew it by heart. By the time later that morning that he actually preached to a full church, his eyes rarely ever fell on the manuscript. His sermons were in such demand that they began to be printed every week, and were even distributed nationwide. The national staff at Episcopal headquarters called him "the best preacher in the Episcopal Church, for consistent excellency."
His Ministry. In 1966 Dick was called to be canon pastor of Grace Cathedral in San Francisco, CA, in charge of the ministry to the entire Cathedral congregation of about one thousand people, serving immediately under the Dean, and the Dean's "boss", The Rt. Rev. James Pike, the Bishop of the Diocese of California. Bishop Pike knew of Dick's fame as a preacher, and proposed making Dick "Preacher to the Diocese," but Dick turned him down. (Nonetheless, all those years of weekly writing would turn out to be excellent preparation for his future career as a writer.) Two years in, the Cathedral suffered a great budget crisis, and had to let go some staff. Dick's position was terminated in January 1968. He was soon called to be rector of another parish, near San Francisco, but turned down the invitation in favor of taking a position as a kind of roving ambassador to all the campus ministries of ten different Christian denominations, at all the colleges in the nine western states. The position involved endless travel, but inasmuch as it was funded by three entities—first, UMHE (United Ministries in Higher Education, a consortium of the ten denominations, collaborating in their college ministries), second, the national Episcopal Church headquarters, and lastly the regional Episcopal Church (called Province VIII)—it was no surprise that Dick's travel budget permitted almost endless travel.
The position in June of 1969 had two titles, one Episcopal and one ecumenical: Dick was both "Episcopal Provincial Secretary for Ministry in Higher Education, Province VIII" and also "National Staff Member of UMHE." Traveling from state to state, from city to city, from college to college, often with colleagues from the other denominations, Dick quickly discovered what the campus ministers' main problem was: one by one, they also were being terminated, due to budget crunches, just as Dick had been. Discovering they were unemployed, most of them had no idea what to do next. 98% of them did not want to go back to serving a parish. And as all those campus ministers (at that time, 1969) were men, typically married, and often with small children 8 - 15 years of age; they couldn't go back to college, to train for a new career. They pleaded with Dick for some help and guidance. He pledged to travel and do research and interviews until he could find them some answers. So, wherever he traveled for the next year, he spent all his spare time (evenings, and weekends) following leads, sitting down and talking with "experts," asking three questions: "How do you change careers, without having to go back to college for retraining?" "How do you hunt for work if the traditional methods—resumes, agencies, and ads—turn up nothing?" And "If you don't know, who do you suggest I go talk to, who might know the answers to those two questions?" Eventually he wrote down all his findings. All that weekly sermon writing, far into the night, from his days at St. John's paid off. By this time (1970), he was an experienced writer.
The National Career Development Project. On December 1, 1970, Dick presented a summary of his findings to a national meeting of UMHE in Philadelphia, PA. It was a self-published manual of 115 pages plus appendices. And he slapped the title on the manual, by which it is known today. (It was a wry joke, a commentary on the workers of that day and age who would say, "Well, I've had it. I'm going to bail out." Dick's playful response was, "Okay, what color is your parachute?) The manual was enthusiastically received, and the newly-elected President of UMHE, The Rev. Verlyn Barker, inquired what Dick planned to do with his research. Told he planned to devote his time exclusively to career development, and sell the manual to any who needed it at cost (five dollars) UMHE asked him if he would at the same time head up a new project, called "The National Career Development Project of United Ministries in Higher Education," or NCDP for short. Dick served as director of that project from 1971 to 1986, initially underwritten by a grant Verlyn Barker secured from the Lilly Endowment, and self-supporting ever thereafter. First headquartered on Taylor Street in San Francisco, Dick moved the Project to the suburbs, Walnut Creek, CA, in the early seventies. From its beginning it adopted four goals: (1) To widely disseminate Dick's key ideas: job-hunters always need alternatives, and there is an alternative method of job-hunting available, if resumes, agencies and ads don't work, which involves practical steps that can be described; (2) To produce more teaching materials, principally books, to explain this philosophy; (3) to conduct workshops, nationwide, lasting from a half-day to two weeks in length; (4) To stay current on new developments and changes in the job-hunting and career-changing scene. The project had Dick as its director, plus four paid staff, and five volunteer staff to aid with the workshops.
After 1986 UMHE increasingly reduced its presence on the Higher Education scene, and the Project was no longer continued. When UMHE let the Project go, Dick continued the work on his own, supporting himself with income from his books. This is his current occupation. He resigned as a clergyman in 2004, and is now just "mister." Dick is in good health, with no known disease or handicap except sometimes in the arena of mobility, as he has a bad back—due to a car accident back in 1966, and then a subsequent injury sustained in Paris in 2014, while celebrating the tenth anniversary of his marriage (to Marci Bolles. He has been in a program of physical therapy ever since.
Personal life: Dick, now 88, has been married more than once. His first wife, formerly Janet Lorraine Price, nicknamed "Jan", is the mother of all four of his children: Stephen, Mark, Gary and Sharon. Stephen, the eldest, is married to wife Julie, with three children, Brian, Greg and Emily, and lives in Minnesota. Mark, next in age, died July 11, 2012; single at jos deatj. but he left four children, Shea, Kimma, Jennifer and Melissa. (Both Kimma and Jennifer are married; Kimma gave birth to a daughter, Maggie, Dick's great-gramdchild, after her father Mark's death.) Gary, next, is married to wife Heidi, has one child, Christian, and lives in San Francisco. Sharon, the youngest, is married to husband Nando, and has two children, Jasper and Kyriana; they live in Talent, Oregon. Jan's marriage to Dick lasted twenty years, and they remain close. Prior to his current marriage, Dick was married for sixteen years to Carol Christen.
Dick has been married for eleven years now to Marciana Mendoza (Navarrete) Bolles, nicknamed "Marci," who was born in Cavite, the Philippines, in what all his friends call "an enchanted marriage." Marci has two grown children from a previous marriage, Janice (married, with one son, Logam), and Adlai (also married,, with one son, Aiden)— both of whom live nearby to Dick and Marci.. Their marriage is admired by all ("the happiest years of my life" Dick has said) and they have been urged to write a book about how they have found such love.