Prominent Glennville farmer, businesswoman, and Vidalia Sweet Onion pioneer Pam Durrence Dasher, aged 79, departed this life on July 24, 2023, under the care of Ogeechee Area Hospice in Statesboro, Georgia.
The Tattnall County native, known affectionately to family and close friends as “Pom,” was born on October 28, 1943, at the station hospital at Dale Mabry Field, Tallahassee, Florida, to George Loyce “G. L.” Durrence and Joyce Waters Durrence, during her father’s service in the United States Army in World War II. Following the surrender of the German Reich and the Empire of Japan, the Durrences returned to their native Glennville.
While still a student at Glennville High School, Pam began her employment career at the law offices of Dubberly & Dubberly, serving as legal secretary to Bruce D. Dubberly, Sr., and B. Daniel Dubberly, Jr., Attorneys at Law. After graduating from GHS in 1961, she continued her employment with the Dubberlys.
In 1962, Pam married her high school sweetheart, Gerald W. Dasher. To their union were born two children, Paige and Walt.
On May 1, 1970, just prior to the birth of her son Walt, she resigned her position at Dubberly & Dubberly to care for her children and then began assisting her husband with his farming operation full-time.
Gerald and his brother Robert had assumed management of the farm of their father, Walter L. Dasher. Walter Dasher had been an early pioneer of the Sweet Onion, working closely with Glennville farmer and agriculture teacher Edmund S. Tensley, who initially discovered the Sweet Onion many years prior and who served as mentor to a young Gerald. Recognizing the potential of the novel crop and wishing to take it to new levels, Gerald renamed his father’s farm G&R Farms and commenced expanding the operation.
Pam served as office manager of G&R for many years, until her husband’s death. In the early days of the farm, the “office” and “shed” consisted of Gerald and Pam’s formal living room. It was not uncommon for Pam, Gerald, and their children to be occupied grading onions and preparing orders for shipment into the early morning hours. Pallets of onions were frequently stacked in the room, and the interior of the house typically smelled of the fresh aroma of the crop. At all stages of the farm’s development, Pam and Gerald instilled in their children the importance and value of long hours and hard work.
As G&R Farms grew, a separate office and packing facility were constructed on Dasher Road across from the Dasher home, eventually growing to the present complex.
In addition to cultivating their farm, Pam and Gerald also sought to cultivate a brand—not just that of G&R, but of the Sweet Onion itself. To that end, the couple set out traveling the country and then the world, introducing the crop to international markets, culminating in the passage of the Vidalia Onion Act by the Georgia General Assembly. The Dashers were the first growers to market Sweet Onions directly to supermarkets, thus cementing the popularity and success of the crop and their own company. Through the efforts of Gerald, Pam, and Robert Dasher, the Sweet Onion became a common and sought-after household commodity across the globe, and onion farmers across Tattnall, Toombs, and surrounding counties continue to realize the rewards of the Dashers’ tireless efforts.
Pam and Gerald toiled and labored to expand their farm, eventually amassing an agricultural empire including various row crops, cattle, and timber, along with a subsidiary timber and construction contracting company, Dasher Industries, Inc.
Following her husband’s untimely death in 2003, Pam assumed co-ownership and management of the company alongside her brother-in-law Robert and continued in that capacity until her passing. Her business savvy prevailed until the end, as she was executing company papers during her stay in the hospital within the week prior to her passing.
At the time of her husband’s death, fellow onion farmer and family friend Delwin Dowdy appropriately proclaimed Gerald Dasher the “King of the Vidalia Onion.” There was no doubt that Pam Durrence Dasher was therefore fittingly the Queen of the Vidalia Onion.
She was a member of Glennville Methodist Church but attended Glennville First Baptist Church in recent years and received great joy from being a member of the Women in the Word Sunday School Class.
In keeping with Durrence family tradition, Pam was a lifelong enthusiast of horses and horse racing, and one of the highlights of her life was hers and her sister’s trip to the Kentucky Derby.
Pam is preceded in death by her parents and husband; brothers-in-law and sister-in-law, John Louis Woods, Sr., Lauree Dasher Kicklighter and Eugene T. Kicklighter, Ronald L. Dasher, and Jackie D. Dasher.
She is survived by her children, the Honorable Paige Dasher Mulligan and husband Mike, and Gerald Walter “Walt” Dasher II and wife Anita; beloved and cherished sister, Kim Durrence Woods; grandchildren, Dylan Edward Mulligan, Esquire, Faith Mulligan Yarbrough and husband Casey, Emma Dasher Hagan and husband Brenley, and Malaree Dasher; brother-in-law and sisters-in-law, Robert E. Dasher and wife Debbie, Barbara Kight Dasher, and Laura Peth Dasher Harrelson; and numerous nephews, nieces, cousins, and companions.
Visitation will take place from 5:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. on Thursday, July 27, 2023, at Brannen Family Funeral Home. Funeral services will be conducted at 10:00 a.m. on Friday, July 28, 2023, at Glennville First Baptist Church, with Reverend Mike Howard and Dylan Mulligan officiating. Burial will follow in the Glennville City Cemetery.
Active pallbearers will be Dylan Mulligan, Brenley Hagan, Dr. Glen J. Dasher, Blake Dasher, Heath Dasher, Kelby Werner, Fischer Sharp, and Casey Yarbrough. Honorary pallbearers will be employees of G&R Farms and members of the Women in the Word Sunday School Class.
In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to Glennville First Baptist Church at 321 West Barnard Street, Glennville, Georgia 30427; Glennville Methodist Church at Post Office Box 352, Glennville, Georgia 30427; or Ogeechee Area Hospice at Post Office Box 531, Statesboro, Georgia 30459.