Most of Allie Lamar's achievements in life can be attributed to sheer determination rather than talent or luck

Alexandra "Allie" Johnson was born in Oxford, Mississippi on January 30, 1957. Her father, Robert Johnson, was high-ranking member of the business school faculty at the University of Mississippi and her mother, Lydia, was a nurse.

Alexandra, or Allie as the young girl was known around town, was very vivacious and very determined. When she sold lemonade as a child, she was determined to have the best lemonade business in the neighborhood. It would be years before she learned the term "market share" but at a very early age, Allie was trying to get the most of it.

In school, Allie was bright but her good grades came more from her jaw-clenching determination than innate brilliance. She studied hard, sat in the front of the class, and eagerly awaited the release of report cards.

By the time Allie reached high school, she was known for her strong will and determination. Whatever she did, she wanted to be the best. Although not naturally the most athletic girl in school, she still worked her way to being the captain of the cheerleading team.

Allie had always dated casually, rarely seeing someone more than just a few dates, until she met Quentin Lamar. The son of one of Oxford's most prestigious families, Quentin was good-looking, intelligent, and just quirky enough to be interesting. Allie and Quentin began dating and were soon spending all their spare time together.

After high school, Allie attended the Mississippi University for Women, and Quentin attended Ole Miss. The long distance didn't hinder their relationship, and Quentin often drove down to Columbus to see her. Even though they were undeterred by the distance, they still dreamed of the day when they could be together fulltime.

Immediately after graduating from The W, Allie moved back to Oxford. She and Quentin got engaged, and she began planning the wedding as he started law school. Allie enjoyed picking out all the flowers and designing the floral arrangements.

She paid a great deal of attention to not only the looks of the flowers, but also the smells. She wanted her wedding guests to be hit with a wall of fragrance when they walked into the church. Allie and Quentin were married in a beautiful ceremony that was the talk of Oxford for years.

The young couple settled down as Quentin's legal practice began to take off. Allie set up the home and then began looking for things to do. She had always been interested in business, and she had also always had an interest in fragrances and cosmetics. Those interests led her to start Lamar Cosmetics.

As usual, Allie's drive and determination immediately propelled Lamar Cosmetics to impressive growth. The company grew and expanded to the point that Quentin quit his legal practice and joined Allie in running the business.

Between their respective family inheritances and the money that Lamar Cosmetics was bringing in, Allie and Quentin became fairly affluent in Oxford. They moved into a big house on North Lamar Boulevard.

But almost as soon as they moved in, Quentin began to seem troubled. He began going days and even weeks without sleep. He refused to shower or clean himself, and he wandered the halls in the old house, yelling at imaginary Union soldiers looking for plunder. Allie's determination kept Lamar Cosmetics growing while Quentin deteriorated in the house.

When Allie became pregnant during one of Quentin's brief periods of lucidity, she thought the responsibilities of fatherhood might settle him down. But instead, the new presence was even more of a torment than the imaginary blue-coated pillagers.

Allie wasn't surprised when Quentin took his own life. In fact, although she would never admit it to anyone, Allie felt somewhat relieved.

She poured all her determination and will into Lamar Cosmetics and raising her son Bill. She was obsessed with both the success of the company and the idea that her son never know the unhappiness and torment of his father.

For a long time, Allie succeeded. Bill grew up intelligent and well-liked, and Lamar Cosmetics exceeded expectations. When he was in high school, Bill became inseparable from a local beauty pageant contestant named Barbara. Allie didn't really approve of the relationship because she thought it took away from Bill's focus and she dreamed of him taking over Lamar Cosmetics. But she allowed Bill this dalliance and hoped it would just be a high school crush, forgotten by the first fall of college.

Although Allie succeeded in keeping her son happy and well-adjusted, by the arrival of the 21st century, Lamar Cosmetics began to falter. Allie's frustration mounted because, for the first time in her life, working more hours didn't get the job done. She had to lay off employees and reduce operations.

And even more frustrating, her son didn't seem to care. Bill worked hard at the company and did what he could, but he also left and went to Europe for school. Although he worked hard by anyone else's standards, for Allie, it seemed like he wasn't dedicated to the company enough.

In a last ditch effort to save what little remained of the company, Allie decided to sponsor a beauty pageant in conjunction with the Yoknapatawpha County Literature Festival. The pageant was well underway when Allie was surprised to learn her son Bill was coming home to Oxford.

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