Meet the Anderson Family

Pam Anderson may have married into the family whose name is synonymous with Grand Lagoon’s fishing and dining history, but she’s also the public face of the family business.

PANAMA CITY BEACH — Pam Anderson may have married into the family whose name is synonymous with Grand Lagoon’s fishing and dining history, but she’s also the public face of the family business.

“I’m the face while my husband carries on the business,” she said during a recent talk at Capt. Anderson’s Marina.

Born in Dallas, she moved to Florida when she was 11. Her father was a U.S. Air Force pilot, and he trained pilots in the Sarasota area. Pam met Ken Anderson in Sarasota when they were in college; they were married in 1972.

She was a registered nurse at the time, working at a hospital in Sarasota. She took a transfer to Panama City (and rented a house in Panama City Beach) when Ken returned home to help his father prepare for the launch of his first dinner boat cruise in 1973.
Ken’s grandfather, Capt. Charley Anderson, was a Bay County pioneer and ran a charter boat business in the 1930s. Ken’s father, Capt. Max Anderson, started building Capt. Anderson’s Marina and offering Shell Island cruises alongside his brothers in the 1950s. “Ken ran a headboat and a Shell Island boat for his dad for a couple of summers, and we bought a home on the south side of the lagoon,” Pam said. “We quickly found out, if I was going to spend any time with my husband, I was going to have to go into the boating industry. I was working evenings and night, and he was working days. We never saw each other.”

By the time the Capt. Anderson dinner cruise launched, she had quit her job at the hospital to join the family business.

“Ken always loved fishing, that’s his heart,” Pam said. “He went to school in Sarasota because they were always down there for the winter season. He used to say he took his shoes off each summer when he went to Panama City Beach, and he didn’t put them back on until he went back to school.”

The dinner boat business lasted 40 years on various boats, until the Lady Anderson was retired in 2013. Along the way, Ken and Pam had a daughter, Suzie (born in 1976), who has given them three grandchildren: Alex, 11, Kiera, 7, and Andy, 4. They often travel together — usually to fish and dive, such as a family trip to the Bahamas, where they taught the grandchildren about the undersea world.
“We took them to Hawaii last November,” Pam said. “Alex had just finished swimming lessons. He went snorkeling with us and kept up with the rest of us. He was so excited about it. ... Kiera is our singer. She sang the last couple of nights we cruised on the Lady Anderson. She’s a natural.”

Andy loves the water, too, but he’s more of a talker, Pam said: “The preschool ladies say he’ll be a pastor some day.”

The grandkids practice singing on a karaoke machine at Pam and Ken’s home. They’re also avid readers and in gifted programs at their school. All three performed during last December’s “Bethlehem Christmas Village” event in the marina’s parking lot.
In recent years, Pam has become an outspoken advocate for fishermen of all stripes, often speaking to groups about fishing regulations. She has spoken to the Senate subcommittee on Small Business and

Entrepreneurship about the negative impact of Red Snapper regulations on her family business, as well as other charter businesses.

“It’s an opportunity to share information that’s not just dollars and cents, but jobs and businesses and livelihoods,” she said. “The bottom line is, we have grown the fishery from 30 million pounds of Red Snapper to 200 million pounds.”
The Gulf states are arguing that federal limits on Red Snapper are unreasonable and based on inaccurate data.

“The difference (between state and federal data) is significant,” Pam said. “That’s why we want regional management of the waters. The states have proven they can do that and are responsibly managing the fish as well as the industry in every other species they control.”

The Andersons attend St. Andrew Baptist Church, and their faith is important to them as evidenced by the Bethlehem village program. But Pam also keeps the faith when it comes to her lobbying efforts.

“I learned early on, if God is with me then who can be against me,” she said. “I have to hang onto that when dealing with some people. To say they’re not kind is a nice way to put it.”

But she’s also pragmatic about the long term health of the Gulf fisheries.
“If we don’t take care of the fisheries, the opportunity to fish will go away, and that’s what we depend on,” she said. “Whether fishers, navigators, mechanics — they’re really good at what they do, and they care. They want what’s best for the fisheries as well as their customers.”