8/2/2017, noon | Updated on 8/2/2017, noon
Barbara Gonzaque Boutte, who was renowned for her involvement in a host of social service and civil rights organizations died ...
Barbara Boutte


Barbara Gonzaque Boutte, who was renowned for her involvement in a host of social service and civil rights organizations died at her home in Markham, Illinois on July 17. She was 86. Boutte succumbed after a long battle with Multiple Myeloma, a form of blood cancer.

She was the widow of the late Alvin J. Boutte, CEO of Indecorp and President of Independence Bank of Chicago.

Barbara Boutte, affectionately known as “BeBe” was born Barbara Theresa Gonzaque on August 5, 1930 in Alexandria, Louisiana. Her parents instilled in her a love of music, dancing and the arts as she grew up surrounded with music, musicians and dance. Even before attending school, she exhibited a rare musical talent on the piano and artistry that made her a lifelong music lover. She began performing

in music and dance recitals at an early age. This prepared her for her lifelong commitment to Music Ministry.

She attended elementary school in New Orleans and in Alexandria and high school in Opelousas. She matriculated to Xavier University

in New Orleans where she earned a degree in Music Education. While at Xavier she sang in various operas and performed nationally in the

University Choir. In her freshman year at Xavier, Barbara Boutte met fellow student Alvin Boutte, a Pharmacy-major, who was also a basketball player and an aspiring entrepreneur. They dated throughout their college years and married in their senior year. Like many young men at the time, he enlisted in the Army after graduation where he was one of the first African Americans to be selected for Officer’s Training School at Fort Polk, LA. After his discharge, the couple moved to Chicago with their two daughters.

The Bouttes worked side by side and established a drug store chain (Independent Drug Stores, Inc.). The pharmacy thrived because of the couple’s hard work, dedication and commitment to the business.

While she helped her husband in the business, she remained devoted to her passion, music. Barbara Boutte pursued her artistic and musical passion by providing piano accompaniment to several well known

vocal talents and teaching music and art. She eventually became a Chicago Public Schools teacher in her late 40’s. As her husband pivoted from his business as a pharmacist and made his historic ascension to become president of Independence Bank, she was a strong supporter and partner. He credited his success to the devotion and backing of

his wife.

The Bouttes were ardent financial supporters of the Civil Rights Movement including The Million Man March. Alvin Boutte´ often hosted meetings at his home with civil rights leaders where Barbara Boutté was a hostess. One of Barbara Boutte’s final public outings was the dedication of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Living Memorial, located in Marquette Park at 3201 West Marquette Road.

After moving to Chatham, the family joined the Parish of St. Dorothy under the leadership of Father George Clements. Later the family moved and joined St. Clotilde which remained her home parish until her death. She served in a leadership capacity on their School Board, their Leadership Committee, the Women’s Club, chairing several church fundraisers while singing in the choir, playing both the