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Forrest Pollock

Dynamic pastor had the respect of many

BRANDON — Bell Shoals Baptist Church Pastor Forrest Pollock, killed this week in a plane crash along with his son, was highly regarded by friends and supporters as a visionary leader and a powerful communicator with a potential future on the national religious stage.

"He had a passion to reach people with the Gospel," said Tom Biles, executive director of the Tampa Bay Baptist Association.

Pollock, 44, and his son Preston, 13, died Monday when the small plane they were flying apparently crashed into the side of a mountain in North Carolina.

A gathering of friends will begin at 9:30 a.m. Saturday at the church, 2102 Bell Shoals Road. A "celebration of life" will be held at 11 a.m. with a fellowship reception to follow. Interment will be next week in Oklahoma City, Okla.

Pollock leaves behind his wife, Dawn, and five other children, Courtney, 15, Brooke, 14, Hope, 12, Blake, 10, and Kirk, 8.

Community leaders, including Hillsborough County Sheriff David Gee and state Rep. Trey Traviesa, considered Pollock a friend and confidant.

"He was a force to be reckoned with," said Traviesa, a Republican whose district includes much of eastern Hillsborough County.

Traviesa said he often sought Pollock's counsel on tough issues like antiabortion legislation. Pollock's advice, Traviesa said, was straightforward: Do what you believe is the right thing, always.

Pollock had flown his single-engine Piper airplane to North Carolina on Sunday to visit his mother. Brooke was also on the flight but stayed behind with her grandmother when Pollock and Preston took off to pick up a friend in Arkansas en route to a conference of Christian leaders in Texas.

Pollock was heavily involved with the church on a national level. There was even talk that he might someday be president of the powerful Southern Baptist Convention, the governing body of more than 42,000 churches in the United States.

Pollock started a multimedia company called PDC Productions in college and sold it in 1990.

He went on to attend Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Texas and in 1994 became senior pastor at Rosen Heights Baptist Church in Fort Worth, Texas. He served there until 1997, when he moved to Istrouma Baptist Church in Baton Rouge, La. Pollock had been at Bell Shoals since 2002.

Cindy Pokluda, Pollock's administrative assistant at Rosen Heights, said staffers and church members were often "tickled" at his ideas.

One time, she said, Pollock asked her to find a suit of armor and a live cow for a crusade at a local high school because he thought it would be "fun for the kids."

"He was full of energy, full of life," Pokluda said. "Every day was a new day for him."

Jan Wesner can be reached at [email protected] or 661-2439. Staff writers S.I. Rosenbaum, Jessica Vander Velde and Ernest Hooper contributed to this report.

"Every time I saw him he was throwing his arms open, giving me a hug."

James Deputy, church maintenance worker

"He was very well-respected and very much loved."

Hillsborough County Sheriff David Gee, a member of Bell Shoals

"Forrest was a great encourager to pastors and he was a good friend."

Tommy Green, pastor, First Baptist Church of Brandon

"His legacy would be his family."

Bell Shoals member and employee Cindy Holcombe

"His servant heart was evident in every decision and action that he took."

Greater Brandon Chamber of Commerce vice president Laura Simpson

"He was my favorite pastor ... I think it's going to be hard to find another pastor to fill his shoes. He left big footprints."

Andrew McCrary, 16, church member

"Heaven is a richer place because

Forrest Pollock lives there."

Southern Baptist Convention president Frank Page

Dynamic pastor had the respect of many 05/15/08 [Last modified: Thursday, May 15, 2008 4:31am]
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