Fan of Ordinary People Doing Extraordinary Things
Always working to improve where he’s at!
From the beginning, destiny seemed to shine an extra special light on Salem’s Dave Pace. He was born on D-Day in 1944, while some family members were fighting in the war. The grit his family and fellow Americans showed during the war must have rubbed off on the newborn from a few thousand miles away, because in all he’s done, Pace has lived up to the challenge.
“If it’s worth doing its worth doing right,” Pace says of his attitude toward life. “Always try to leave a place better than you find it.”
That’s a mantra Pace learned from an early age. His childhood in the 1950s of the Ozarks was as charming one would imagine. He remembers he didn’t even know what Boy’s State was until he learned of his own selection from a chance run-in with the postman.
“I was walking home and he said for me to come over and told me I’d been selected,” Pace says. “I said you must have the wrong person, but sure enough, I was the Dave Pace he was looking for.”
Like many young men of his generation, Pace answered the call of service in Vietnam once his time came. After being drafted in September 1967, Pace was groomed for leadership in being made an infantry combat squad leader and later a platoon sergeant. He arrived at the height of the conflict one year later.
“I felt like, why shouldn’t I do my part, for me that’s just part of being an American,” Pace says. “I can remember every fire fight as if it happened yesterday. Some really brave men and great friends were killed in my company. As a squad leader, I was very lucky. I didn’t loose any men, although some were wounded”.
“You get really close to the guys you served with,” Pace says. “Still today we still try to have a reunion every year.”
Pace was awarded some medals for his service, including the Combat Infantryman Badge, two Bronze Stars for heroism in ground combat, the Air Metal for Meritorious Achievement in Aerial Flight and the Purple Heart for wounds sustained in action with the enemy.
A lesser man may have come home and made his life that of endlessly seeking the accolades of his neighbors, however, Pace went to work serving the nature that had enchanted his youth. After a successful career with Ozark Lead and US Food Service, Pace dedicated his efforts to conservation.
“The wild places and wild animals can’t speak for themselves, so somebody needs to speak up for them,” Pace says. “I’ve always felt drawn to have to improve everything. The outdoors have been good to me. I’ve gotten a lot of enjoyment from spending time in nature. I think it’s good for everybody to have these places we can all visit.”
Pace once again lived up to the leadership that was needed. He served as the Missouri state chair of the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation from 2008 to 2014, and was instrumental in the establishment of the wild elk population in the Missouri Ozarks. For his efforts Pace received the Conservationist of the Year award from the Conservation Federation of Missouri.
“You have things in life you don’t forget, for me seeing that first elk step off that truck is something I’ll never forget,” Pace says.
These days Pace still ventures into the wilderness to go hunting, but freely admits he rarely pulls the trigger anymore. His self-built “man area” is adorned with hunt mementos, animal hides, and mounts.
As far as other wisdom, Pace is humble as always, but is willing to share a few of the things he’s learned over the years.
“Always tell the truth, keep your word, work hard, and meet people well,” Pace says.
Today, Pace is happily married to his wife, Sharon. They have two children, six grandchildren, and three dogs.