BARBARA JEAN FLORES FERNANDEZ
Former Miss Kauai 1950, Barbara Jean Flores Fernandez, affectionately known as BJ, died at the age of 90 from leukemia, on December 5, 2020 in The Villages, Florida. She will be buried in Kapaa, Kauai, Hawaii, where her loving grandparents, mother and relatives are laid to rest.
Barbara Jean was born on October 18, 1930 in Honolulu, Hawaii to Adelaide Souza Flores and John Flores. She was their only child.
At the age of 11, Barbara Jean woke up to bombs dropping near her neighborhood at Pearl Harbor. Neighbors grabbed the children and evacuated into the mountains for a week. Due to the war, she was sent on a convoy ship crisscrossing the Pacific to California in search of her father. With little money she managed after several days to locate family. From there she was sent to various homes for girls before returning to Oahu several years later. She was crowned Carnival Queen during her senior year where she graduated from Farrington High School in Kalihi, Oahu.
At age 18, she started working in the ballroom dancing circuit in Waikiki and also performing shows both singing and dancing for the United Service Organizations (USO). She was also involved in the first professional theatre group in Honolulu. She was runner-up for Miss Waikiki in 1948 and two years later was crowned Miss Kauai 1950. At age 21, she was promoted to ballroom instructor at the Royal Hawaiian Hotel where she would meet a prominent family who helped her have a life-saving surgery.
At age 22, Barbara Jean was contacted by a renowned California surgeon who had been advised of her congenital heart defect. He had heard she was working three jobs to save money necessary for heart surgery. He said she never would be able to save enough money on her own, so he offered to perform her surgery pro bono, provided she could fly to California and have family and friends donate blood and plasma. She always said how grateful she was to her heart surgeon, the family who championed her, and her dancing, for saving her life.
Barbara Jean was a devoted officer’s wife for over 25 years, relocating to various air bases every 2-4 years across the country, establishing new households, schools, and support organizations for military wives. She taught Hula and Tahitian to neighborhood girls and, was a lead performer for the Hawaiian State Society in Washington DC from 1965-1968.
She is survived by her three children (and their spouses) Greg (Kit), Terri (Jim) and Stephen (Michelle), four granddaughters, Heather (Dan), Samantha, Kayla (Dylan), Rachael, and one great granddaughter, Olivia. She is also survived by relatives in Hawaii and California, as well as life time friends.
She is predeceased in death by her parents, John and Adelaide Flores.
Barbara Jean was a true survivor, a wonderful mother, loving wife and loyal friend. She also wrote her autobiography for her children titled “Talk Story”, which details her life from birth through midlife. The family requests that donations be made to the American Heart Association, your local Hospice, or the Italian Greyhound Rescue Gulf Coast. Her ashes shall be blessed and laid to rest on Kauai, the island of her heart and soul.