Lake Country Faces: Dorion’s 25-year passion for Nisswa leads her to chamber job
A Nisswa woman with an adventurous spirit - she enjoys drag racing, traveling and white water rafting - has become the next president of the Nisswa Chamber of Commerce.
Pam Dorion took over that role Monday, Aug. 24, as the chamber's third president in the past year and a half. She's more than ready for the challenge.
"I think I'll have proving to do. I feel like this is my jam," Dorion said last week while sitting in the gazebo outside the chamber building overlooking Main Street. "My heart just beats Nisswa and I'm ready to drive tourism. I've driven tourism for Nisswa since I moved here."
Dorion took an adventurous route and found Nisswa in an adventuresome way before settling here 25 years ago.
Born in Canada, Dorion and her family moved to Lancaster, a tiny town in the northwest corner of Minnesota, when she was around 2 years old. She grew up in Lancaster, which is just eight miles from both Canada and North Dakota, where her family farmed.
She received a business degree from the University of Minnesota-Crookston and was recruited by DuPont right out of college. She and her high school sweetheart, Cam Dorion, moved to California, where Pam worked for six years.
She was on her way to Colorado with a job promotion when life's path veered sharply. She and Cam had divorced after a couple of years of marriage (though they later remarried), and before starting her job in Colorado, Dorion went home for a two-week visit. Her dad had been diagnosed with cancer and her sister was having a baby. Her family needed her.
"I'd been gone for six years and missed my family," she said, adding she knew she had to move home and help her family, which included running a family restaurant in Lancaster.
Then one day Dorion was driving through Nisswa - a place she'd never visited despite traveling extensively with her grandparents as a child - and stopped at the Triangle gas station. She was looking at a map on the wall at the gas station to see where she was when a man behind her asked if she was looking for a place to rent.
"I said, 'Where am I on the map?'" Dorion said. "I looked down the street and said, 'This is the coolest place I've ever seen.'"
Dorion decided to rent the place the man she bumped into at Triangle offered, acknowledging she's adventurous.
"I was a side road girl - still am," she said.
She got settled and worked at Kordel Furniture (now Slumberland) in Baxter when her sister called and told her she'd seen Cam. The Dorions ended up getting back together, and Cam loved Nisswa too. They've been married for 20 years and have two kids - Sydney, a Pequot Lakes High School senior and reigning Miss Pequot Lakes; and Thomas, a PLHS sophomore.
The family enjoys drag racing and camping together at Brainerd International Raceway, along with traveling.
The Dorions started a business, Lakes Equipment Repair, and she worked for 12 years at St. Joseph's Medical Center in Brainerd as a surgical buyer. About four years ago, Dorion started Pamz Crafts, making large yard games and custom crafts. She still offers rentals.
"I was waiting for the chamber job to come open and the time to be right," Dorion said, noting she'd volunteered for the chamber for years.
"I just really love Nisswa. I love the fact that people go out and open their businesses. I love all the tourist and local interaction. I just love being part of it," she said, adding she's traveled a lot and visited chambers for information so she understands the need for a chamber.
She's also very familiar with Nisswa. She's secretary of the Nisswa Lions Club and was already on the committee for the chamber's Pretty Good Golf Tournament, an upcoming event. She's also helped in the past with announcing at Nisswa Turtle Races and Winter Jubilee parade, as well as directing traffic for races.
"I was a great volunteer," she said.
Dorion is excited to promote Nisswa's businesses and tourism, and already did a video promoting Nisswa on Facebook.
"It is really a great location with some great people," she said.
Nancy Vogt may be reached at 218-855-5877 or email@example.com. Follow her on Facebook and on Twitter at www.twitter.com/@PEJ_Nancy.