Alison Dupri


This page is dedicated to my twin sister Melanie who passed away April 21, 2002. Words cannot even begin to explain the depth of pain, anxiety and sadness that I experience daily because of her death. We were inseparable soulmates and I miss her beyond belief. It is a daily struggle that I am learning to deal with. I loved her more than anything in the world and the emptiness in my heart will never leave me. In a way, I died with her, but I think that only another twin can really understand that feeling. Starting a new life, "twinless", is taking some getting used to but I am. Slowly but surely. Luckily, I have a very close, supportive and loving family. I don’t know what I would do without them. This is hard for me to talk about without getting to emotional so I’ll leave it at this. If you would like to know more about her, please read the eulogy that my father wrote and read at her funeral. It is very touching. Thank you for taking the time to visit Melanie’s page.


Melanie Diane Barber

I want to begin today by thanking all of you for coming. Melanie would have been surprised and pleased at the size of this crowd. My family joins me in being extremely grateful for your presence.

Young people are not supposed to die. And parents shouldn’t have to bury a child. The cliché is that there are no words of comfort at times like these. The cliché is wrong. The scores of sympathy cards, many with thoughtful notes, the stream of e-mails, the postings on the web sites, the flowers, the food and the brief visits have provided enormous comfort for me and my family.

I particularly want to thank the members of our extended family who have provided so much loving support over the last few weeks as we said goodbye to Lynda’s mother Evelyn and prepared to say goodbye to Melanie. Thanks especially to my son-in-law Sotiere who has been a model for sons-in-law as he has supported our family. Sotiere can not know our pain, but he knows we are in pain and he has helped so much. He’s brought food and provided shuttle service to and from the airport over the last two months. And he has held my daughter Sharon when grief has overwhelmed her.

Melanie and Alison, identical twins, were born in 1978. Early on, almost as infants, we noticed that Alison seemed to be the more cheerful of the two. Pictures taken during their childhood usually showed a grinning Alison and what we called then a more serious Melanie. By the time Melanie was eight or nine years old, we knew that she had problems of extreme shyness, anxiety and something we could not name, but which a few years later was diagnosed as mixed depression. As a teenager, she was hospitalized for oppositional defiance, anxiety and depression.

Years of outpatient treatment followed, with superb primary care from Dr. Kristine Diehl who fought so ferociously to try to save Melanie’s life. Numerous psychiatrists, psychologists, counselors and clinical social workers all treated her at one time or another. Anxiolytics, antidepressants, selective serotonin release inhibitors and the like were prescribed. But these medications generally took days, weeks or even months to take effect and by that time, Melanie had already found something that worked far faster and much more reliably -- alcohol. Somewhere around age sixteen, Melanie began a serious love affair with alcohol that was to last all the rest of her short life. That affair included the usual life threatening injuries, hospitalizations, brushes with the law, missed family celebrations and, at the end, dropping out of college. After she reached the legal age of majority, there was even less we were able to do for her.

Those in the modeling community who, because of her death, learned of Melanie’s alcoholism, were astonished. But like a lot of alcoholics, Melanie could suspend her drinking to keep commitments that were important to her, and she so loved her modeling career.

On December 22nd of last year, Melanie, as a pedestrian, was hit by a car. The car took her out at the knees, flipped her onto the hood whereupon her face and shoulder broke the windshield. Tossed into the air and over the car, she landed on her head. Witnesses were sure she was dead. Unconscious, she was taken to Christiana Hospital by ambulance, where they saved her. She lived, dodging yet another bullet.

But maybe not. In addition to horrendous bruises and a lot of pain and immobility, she had permanent knee damage, some scars and something called post concussion syndrome. This condition left her pupils dilated with resulting photophobia, and it left her body possessed of bizarre twitches and jerking motions. Most threateningly, she experienced a deepening spiral of severe depression that was heartbreaking to witness. And so her drinking worsened dramatically, with benders and, ominously, binge drinking. She had several episodes of getting really drunk, then not passing out, but drinking more, a lot more. We tried to get her institutionalized, but that is not easy if an adult patient doesn’t want that kind of help.

On Saturday April 20th of this year, she headed out for the evening with her sister Alison and Alison’s boyfriend Mark. That afternoon, Lynda and I listened with mixed emotions as she and her sister spent what seemed to be hours bathing, laughing, giggling, applying makeup, drying their hair and dressing. Emotions of joy, to match their infectious excitement—they chattered like monkeys. And dread, because Saturday nights, have not been the best times for the Barber family. As they were leaving, Melanie turned to her mother and said, loud enough for me to hear, “Love you guys. Please don’t worry about us.” And as has been true for at least the last five years, we worried.

But the night was quiet for us: no phone calls, no police, no loud noises, no one stumbling on the stairs, no bodies falling over. And nothing at all the next morning. We even went out and enjoyed a Sunday lunch at The Olive Garden. Nothing, until the phone call came about three in the afternoon, the phone call that changed our lives forever.

Melanie had had too many drinks that Saturday night, then went to a liquor store to buy some whiskey, then to a friends house for more drinking. She ended the night, as she often did, at Alison’s boyfriend’s house, with everybody crashing about three in the morning. But, as had become more common, Melanie got up after everyone else slept and began drinking anew. Missing, according to the police, were the contents of a half bottle of wine and a whole bottle of whiskey. This massive amount of alcohol readily passed through the lining of her stomach and small intestine, quickly overwhelming her liver. Severe central nervous system depression, narcosis, anesthesia, respiratory arrest, massive organ failure and death. We lost her. And, she is gone forever.

I have six reasons why I decided to tell this awful story: First, I thought that maybe if I wrote it down and said it out loud, I might understand it. We will see. Second, I wanted to squelch some ugly, hurtful rumors circulating here in Wilmington, in the modeling, photography and publishing communities and on the internet. The way she actually died was bad enough. Third, I wanted those of you who did not know us well to know that we did all under God’s heaven to save her over the years. Forth, I wanted two people, I’m very fond of, who were with her when she died, to know that when she stopped breathing, a team of professional paramedics with all the right equipment would not have likely saved her. By the time they knew something was wrong, called the paramedics and called home for my help, she had been dead for hours. Fifth, I wanted all her family and friends to know that she felt nothing, she just forgot to breathe and never felt the discomfort of oxygen depravation. Sixth and lastly, I hoped that anyone in this audience who has a problem similar to Melanie’s will get the help they need so that they don’t cause the anguish and sorrow Melanie’s death has brought to her friends and family. She was so careless with her life, something we cared so much about.

And so she died.

But the Melanie who lives on in our hearts was so much more than that sad story. The difficulties I just related took up so little of the life she lived and the life we remember.

Her mother remembers a kind and loving daughter who told her Mom everything, including things I certainly didn’t want to know about. Her sister Sharon remembers a little sister who acted as confidant, friend and cheerleader. Her sister Carrie remembers a young lady she hoped to know better as that sister became an adult. Alison, whose closeness to Melanie makes her loss incalculable, remembers a soul mate to whom she will now dedicate the rest of her life. Pray for Alison. Her niece Jackie remembers how Melanie liked playing the role of understanding older sister. Jackie misses her Auntie “M” and her friendship, sound advise and love. Katie, who had trouble telling the twins apart, remembers a special aunt who made her laugh. Steve and Rose and Randy and Andrea remember a playful niece who they will miss terribly.

Mom and I remember a beautiful young lady who was a delight to be around, who charmed those she met. We remember a young lady who loved poetry, footnoting poems she especially loved. She liked to read these poems to her family, even if she cried when she read them. We remember a gifted mimic and storyteller who could have been a standup comedian should she have so chosen. We remember her piano duets with her sister Alison. Certain songs will forevermore be special. We remember a great singer who, with her sisters, would back me up on vocals, doing the doo wop harmonies, when I played guitar and sang my fifties Rock & Roll songs. We remember a good writer, but like her father, a lazy--wait until the last minute-writer. We remember a daughter who astonished her parents as an older teenager by sharing with us a completely hidden artistic talent. How could parents not know that their child had such talent? She said: “Dad, it is just a drawing of something I was looking at, not something new.”

Mom and I remember walking behind beautiful twins on our trips to Mexico and the stir those beautiful twins would cause. One time in the town of Cancun, not the resort, we went around a corner and the corner building had at least one man’s head sticking out of all windows on three stories. I remember the boys in Guanajuato who asked me if they could have their pictures taken with Al and Mel. In my poor Spanish I acted like I misunderstood, and posed the boys with me. Those muchachos got their picture. We remember the stories about the commotion they caused on Bourbon Street during one of their modeling shoots.

And we remember the modeling career that was just taking off. Spotted walking to class, Melanie and Alison were approached to be in the University of Delaware Calendar in 1999. Then they served as hostesses at a few parties in Washington and New York City, not really even thinking of being models. Two years later, Photographer Jim Lewchuk, who has become a close family friend, was putting together his own calendar, and after seeing the twins in the Delaware calendar, he flew them to Puerto Vallarta, Mexico for the United States Glamour Team Calendar. They got to go to the New Orleans’ Superdome Car Show and The Fort Lauderdale Air and Sea Show with Jim to help sell the calendar. Then, with a lot of help from Jim, their modeling careers started getting more serious. They shot with various photographers for those photographers’ websites.

In the summer of 2001, they started working for Anheiser Bush as Budweiser girls. Later, they were on the cover of High Times magazine and in a pictorial for FHM magazine. Next they won a pictorial contest for the Horse Backstreet Choppers magazine. They became the Horses’ official Iron Maidens appearing on the cover with a cover story with many other pictures inside. And before this tragedy, they were scheduled to travel with the Horse marketing folks to promote their magazine for all of 2002. They got to stay at the Playboy mansion and go out with Hugh Heffner and his girlfriends to trendy clubs in Los Angeles. They had a great time and got to live like stars while they were there. A few months after that, they went to the mansion again for a Mardi Gras party where they got to meet lots of famous people. Before Melanie’s death, they were on the list to be automatically invited to all the Playboy Mansion parties, all costs covered. They almost got in trouble for hanging out with the mansion staff with whom they felt more comfortable. It turns out that whatever else he is, Hugh Heffner is a nice man. He treated my daughters with respect and sent one of the first condolence cards from the publishing community to us after Melanie’s death.

Then, with the help of Jim Lewchuk again, they were chosen as the spokesmodels, or motor girls, for a new clothing line called Motor Brands USA. They were scheduled to tour the country promoting the new line, be on radio shows, go to all the Ozzfest concerts--whatever that means--and appear on the Howard Stern show. They were being considered for an appearance on MTV. The Motor Brands folks made posters of the twins that are now being distributed with Alison’s permission as a tribute to Melanie. They also had their new agent working on an income producing website called which was near completion. Just after Melanie’s death, they were selected for a major shoot with another publication with a fee of twenty five thousand dollars each. Finally, they had been selected to be the spokespersons for a major consumer brand. They were still in the process of negotiating financial terms, but the fees would have been substantial. As their agent assured them, they were about to be rich and famous.

In a recent letter to me from photographer Jim Lewchuk, he stated: “Your family has been in the prayers of my family, and as proven on the Internet, in the hearts of so many others. It's astonishing how many people Melanie touched even the ones she never met, didn't know, and were merely moved by her image. Melanie was an astounding woman to be sure. “[Your daughters] were on the verge of tremendous success. Not only was the beauty there, but everyone marveled at their humbleness. It was such a unique combination in the industry that they could move mountains. “I hope Alison goes on with modeling; many photographers s have already asked and even somewhat pleaded that she continue. I join in their pleas, and hope she does so, if she's ever ready in the months to come.”

So, with her sister Alison, she was being very successful with a career she loved.

Again, let me thank all of you for coming to this memorial. Your support means more to Melanie’s family than you can ever know.

In closing, I want to acknowledge that we have suffered a grievous loss, but much remains – enough for me and my family to want to go on. And go on we will. For me, if I had known all that was going to happen before Melanie was even born, I would still want her to repeat her life. I got so much more joy from her than sorrow. Finally, the death of loved ones turns the mind toward thoughts of heaven. While I do hope to see her again, if it turns out that this life is all that there is, I still feel and will always feel blessed to have been the father of this marvelous young lady, Melanie Diane Barber.

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