Barbara Ellen Dubois was born to Gerard and Susan Dubois in Oxford, Mississippi, on August 3, 1997. Barbara was a happy, strong little girl with an independent but loving spirit. People often stopped her proud parents to comment on the gorgeous child.
Sadly, Gerard died unexpectedly a month before Barbara's second birthday. Susan was devastated by her husband's death, but the realization that her daughter's upbringing was now her sole responsibility kept her grounded and able to cope.
Fortunately, Gerard had made excellent financial arrangements for Susan, so she could concentrate on raising their child. Although Barbara was the center of her universe, Susan was very careful not to spoil her.
In school, Barbara's outgoing and cheerful personality made her popular with children and teachers. Her classroom participation skills and excellent grades kept her near the top of her class academically. But Barbara was far from perfect. She had a stubborn, reckless—even rebellious—streak.
From the time she was barely able to walk, she climbed on everything, including on one occasion, the low roof of the storage shed in her backyard. Susan pulled her to safety just in time to avoid a disaster, but Barbara went back time and again until the area was finally fenced off and unavailable to her. After that, she just looked for other forbidden things to try.
When Barbara was five, a friend of Susan's suggested Barbara enter a Baby Beauty Pageant. Susan at first scoffed at the idea but ultimately decided to go for it. Surprisingly, Barbara was a runner-up on her very first try, and Susan was hooked. She enrolled Barbara in dance, piano, and singing lessons.
Barbara seemed to enjoy the competition and excitement of the pageants, but as she became older resented the countless hours her pageant life required.
She loved jazz, ballet, and tap lessons, but when she was 10, she refused to go to any more piano and singing lessons, convincing her mother that concentrating on dance would pay off in the long run.
All the serious pageant participants had coaches who were experts in the secrets to winning pageants, and Barbara spent endless hours with hers, Marty "Slim" Rutgers. Slim was one of the best, most expensive coaches on the pageant circuit, and Susan felt lucky to have him. He advised Barbara on stage presence and wardrobe. He hired makeup and hair specialists and decided which talent routine would garner the most judging points.
When Barbara was 14, she told her mother that Slim had taught her everything she needed. She said she was tired of spending so much time with him and didn't want him around anymore. Susan was puzzled by this abrupt change of heart but attributed it to teenage Barbara asserting her independence.
Susan also knew Barbara had recently developed an interest in young Bill Lamar and figured they wanted more time to spend together. A few years older than Barbara, Bill was the son of Allie Lamar of Lamar Cosmetics, a frequent, valued pageant sponsor.
The youngsters, finding they had much in common, became inseparable until March 2013, when Susan withdrew Barbara from the Miss Junior Mississippi pageant, and they moved to Atlanta. Soon after Barbara's departure, Bill went to Europe to complete his schooling.
Barbara's friends were devastated when she left but happy for her when they learned she was spending a year at a special school to perfect her pageant talents. They were disappointed that Barbara did not communicate with them during that year but attributed it to her being too busy with her new schooling.
When Barbara returned, she immediately reimmersed herself in the pageant life. Her closest friend, Rachel Webb, noticed a new seriousness and maturity though Barbara talked little of her year away.
Always willing to share her pageant know-how with younger girls, Barbara spent even more time mentoring them now that Bill wasn't around. She used her pageant prize money and scholarships to go to the University of Mississippi. Susan yearned for a career in show business for her daughter, but Barbara's dream was different.
Her love of children led her to earn a B.A.in Education. She planned to teach at the elementary level after competing in her final pageant at the Yoknapatawpha County Literature Festival.