Born to John and Oneida Bares (pronounced BAH REZ), Bares was reared in the LeBlanc community in Vermilion Parish. He graduated in 1954 from Erath High School in Erath, where he played all sports, served as senior class president, and was a member of the chorus and parliamentary teams, both of which secured statewide recognition. He then graduated from Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge, from which he procured his Bachelor of Arts and law degrees, the latter in 1960. He was a member of Sigma Nu at LSU and served as the fraternity president in 1957. He thereafter helped to establish a Sigma Nu chapter at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette. Bares was commissioned as a second lieutenant in the Louisiana National Guard. He served six months of active duty at Fort Jackson, South Carolina.
Bares was active in Kiwanis International, the Lafayette Chamber of Commerce, and St. Pius X Roman Catholic Church. He was the first elected president of Our Lady of Fatima Church. He was president of the Evangeline Area Boy Scouts Council located at 2266 South College Road in Lafayette. He received the Silver Beaver Award from the Scouts in 2000. He was an avid horseman, hunter, fisherman, and golfer.
Bares began his legal career in Abbeville, the seat of Vermilion Parish, as an associate of J.E. Kibbee. In 1961, he moved to Lafayette as an associate general counsel with All American Insurance Company. He organized Val-u Investment Corporation and served as its vice president and general counsel. He practiced law for nearly a half century, most recently with the Oliver and Way firm of Lafayette. He was a lobbyist after he left the Senate.
In 1972, Bares was elected to the Louisiana House of Representatives. He was unopposed in 1975. In 1979, he was elevated to the State Senate for the District 23 seat (Lafayette and Acadia parishes) vacated by Edgar G. "Sonny" Mouton, Jr., of Lafayette, who instead ran unsuccessfully for governor. In that campaign, under the new nonpartisan blanket primary, Bares defeated Democrat Pat Juneau, 54-46 percent in the general election, popularly called the runoff. Eliminated in the primary was Dud Lastrapes, who became the mayor of Lafayette the following year. Bares served in the Senate for twelve years until he was unseated in the 1991 general election by the Republican J. Lomax Jordan, also a Lafayette attorney. The seat was subsequently held by the Republicans Michael J. Michot and Page Cortez.
Roemer selected Bares as Senate President in 1988 though Sydney B. Nelson of Shreveport had actively sought the position and had urged Bares to run for the lesser position of Senate pro-tem. In Louisiana, the Senate president is normally chosen by the governor, but legislators in 1990 returned Nunez to the presidency in a slap at Roemer. The resolution to replace Bares with Nunez, authored by later U.S. Representative William J. Jefferson of Louisiana's 2nd congressional district, was twenty-eight to twenty-one. Roemer referred to the removal of Bares as an example of "what's wrong with this state."
Bares' obituary describes him as "a passionate leader in the pro-life movement [who] authored historic legislation to protect the precious lives of the unborn in Louisiana." In 1991, Bares authored a measure in the Senate, co-sponsored in the House by Representative Sam H. Theriot of Abbeville, which would have outlawed most abortions in Louisiana, including impregnations which resulted from incest. The legislature approved the bill, but it was vetoed by Governor Roemer on the grounds that it went beyond the scope of the United States Supreme Court decision Roe v. Wade. Such feminist groups such as the National Organization for Women, subsequently headed by the Louisiana native Kim Gandy, formerly of Bossier City, successfully targeted Bares and a pro-life House member, fellow Democrat Carl Newton Gunter, Jr., of Rapides Parish, for defeat. The controversy worked to Jordan's advantage though he too took the pro-life position. In the end, Bares and Gunter were defeated in what Louisiana feminists hailed as a great success.
Bares led Jordan in the 1991 primary with 13,409 votes (40 percent) to 9,313 ballots (28 percent). Two other Republicans, Carl W. Tritschler (born February 16, 1964) and Max A. Menard received a critical 6,713 (20 percent) and 3,921 votes (12 percent), respectively. The three Republican candidates, in what was otherwise a heavily Democratic year in Louisiana politics, polled a combined 60 percent in the state Senate primary. In the runoff, technically the general election on November 16, 1991, Jordan received 22,224 (60 percent) to Bares' 14,730 (again 40 percent). In that same election, Edwin W. Edwards returned for a fourth nonconsecutive term as governor in the showdown with former Ku Klux Klan figure David Duke.
A reformer in the legislature, Bares served as national vice president of the Education Commission of the States from 1985 to 1986. He championed tort reform and was a lead author of the 1987 Workman's Compensation Reform Act. Bares was president of the Louisiana Chapter of the Association of French Speaking Legislators and a supporter of the interest group, the Council for the Development of French in Louisiana, or CODOFIL. In 1991, the nation of France awarded Bares the Medal of Merit to recognize his efforts to preserve the French language and culture in Louisiana. He grew up speaking French and did not learn English until he entered elementary school. On two occasions, Bares, as state senator, accompanied Governor Roemer on trips to France and to Japan.
Bares died of a stroke in Lafayette at the age of seventy-one. He was survived by his wife of more than a half century, the former Elizabeth "Betty" Jeanne Baquet; eight children, Camille Massie, Jude Bares, M.D., Jeannine Martin, John Bares, Michelle Tober, Jacques Bares, Allen Bares, II, and Elizabeth Mackie; nineteen grandchildren; a sister, Agnes B. Richard, and two brothers, Eno Bares and Emery Bares. A mass of Christian burial was held on August 18 at St. Pius X Church in Lafayette. Entombment was in the Calvary Cemetery Mausoleum.
In 2002, Bares was inducted into the "Living Legends" section of the Acadian Museum in Erath in Vermilion Parish.