Pamela Dance has a front-row seat to her father Bill Dance’s soaring success.
Pamela Dance loves to brag on her father, Bill Dance, the longtime host and driving force behind Bill Dance Outdoors. “I will brag on him all day long,” Pamela says. “I am his biggest fan without a doubt. I am extremely proud of my dad.”
Born the baby and the only girl in the Dance family, Pamela grew up outdoors following after her three older brothers, Bill Jr., Paul, and Patrick. “I wanted to do what the boys were doing and be wherever they were,” she says. “I was a big tomboy; any opportunity I had to go fishing, I was on it. My dad created such a love for fishing and the outdoors and set such a good example, that it’s what we wanted to do.” But to Pamela and her brothers, having a dad who was a “famous” television personality, was no big deal. “It always just was what it was,” she says. “It was the norm for me. It was neat to see him on television and watch him, but he was always just my Daddy.”
As Pamela grew up, she forged her own path for the future. “I never really thought about working for my dad,” Pamela says. “I had my own path. I knew early on I wanted to be a teacher, and I remember in second grade playing school and thinking about what my classroom was going to look like.” She enrolled in business at the University of Tennessee—in large part to make her mom Dianne happy—“but I was absolutely miserable.” Finally, Pamela changed her major to education and knew immediately it was where she was meant to be. “Once I got into the program, I loved it,” she remembers. “I knew it was what I was meant to do.”
After graduation, Pamela taught school until she decided she was ready to have children. The births of her daughters, Grace Ann and Sophie, changed her worldview. “The first time I felt my oldest daughter move, it was all she wrote,” Pamela says. “I knew I couldn’t put my baby in anyone else’s hands.” So she became a stay-at-home mom and went about the work of raising her daughters. Pamela was busy “doing the mom thing” when her father called and offered her a part-time job at Bill Dance Outdoors. “My only question was ‘when do I start?’” she says.
As is often the case, the job turned out to be much more than part time. Today, even though Pamela’s title is Bill Dance’s assistant, she does a little bit of everything. “My role changes by the day,” Pamela says. She maintains her dad’s schedules, runs the teleprompter during filming, edits show scripts, manages the mountains of correspondence, and updates her dad’s social media platforms.
“I love my job, and I look forward to going to work,” she says. “I do whatever needs to be done.”
Now that Pamela works for her dad, she has a front-row seat to the impact he has on people. “I’m blown away by how he’s affected people for decades,” Pamela says. “He has a gift for making people feel comfortable. People feel like they know him. He will stop at appearances and shake hands and take pictures with every single person. It makes my heart smile. It’s such an honor to be part of the business now and be part of his legacy.”
An accomplished angler in her own right (a plaque on her desk reads: I fish like a girl; try to keep up), these days Pamela doesn’t get to fish as often as she’d like. “I don’t get to fish like I used to—life gets in the way,” she says with a laugh. “I actually got a new rod last year, and I haven’t had the chance to use it yet.”
Just as her father did with her, Pamela instilled a love of fishing and the outdoors in her daughters. “My girls loved to fish from the get go,” she says. “From the time they could walk, they had a rod in their hands. We always fished with them.” Pamela and her daughters live across a lake from her parents, and throughout their lives her girls would hop on a 4 wheeler and go fish. “Of course my Dad couldn’t stand it, and he’d come out and fish with them.” Both girls also love to hunt, and Grace Ann, Pamela’s older daughter shot trap as an 8th grader on the high school team. After leaving school during her junior year of high school to homeschool, Grace Ann competed on the varsity team at Christian Brothers, an all-boy’s school in Memphis.
“There is so much value to being outdoors, being exposed to nature, seeing the life cycle, seeing where food comes from.”
Pamela also encourages other parents to get their children—especially girls—outdoors. “Get them outside early, and get out there with them,” Pamela advises. “Let them have fun, and let them have their successes. There is so much value to being outdoors, being exposed to nature, seeing the life cycle, seeing where food comes from. Encourage them. Make it fun, and make memories together.”
And while Pamela loves her job at Bill Dance Outdoors and being a part of the company that feels more like family, she relishes the memories of growing up as her Daddy’s little girl. “My best memories were when we would take the day and go out in the boat,” Pamela remembers. “We’d break for lunch and get up on the bank to eat together. He’d pull me out of school to be on the show. It’s the memory of spending that time with him that I treasure.”