Judge rules in University’s favor

Judge Ernest G. Drake ruled in favor of the Southeastern Development Foundation in a lawsuit with the family of Southeastern alum Myra LaRue that was brought before Drake in Aug. 2011.

The battle was over LaRue’s will, which, as of March 2009, stated that her property in Greensburg, La., worth an estimated $380,000, will be left to Southeastern, and not to LaRue’s elderly sister, Mary Darouse Pardue and three of LaRue’s nieces. However, the will did leave certificates of deposit to one niece, and the balance of LaRue’s checking account to a friend. A new will, which left her estate to Pardue, surfaced on Oct. 9, 2010, 13 days before LaRue’s death.

The Southeastern Development Foundation, which is the fund-raising arm of the university, contested the new will, saying that LaRue was coerced into signing it, and she was not mentally fit to make the decision.

Pardue was dejected after the ruling.

“I am now 88 years old, and for 16 months I have not even had the chance to grieve for my sister,” Pardue said in an interview with The Advocate. “We were very close all of our lives. This last year has destroyed my health.”

Dennis James, President of the Southeastern Development Foundation, released a statement shortly after.

“Mrs. Myra LaRue was an alum, long-time friend and supporter of Southeastern, particularly in the area of student scholarship,” James said in a statement. “She was a beloved member of the Southeastern family, and during her life made abundantly clear her intention to create a lasting legacy for the benefit of Southeastern students. She openly shared with members of her family, the local community, university administration and Foundation Board that her will included a bequest to the Southeastern Foundation for this purpose.”

According to The Advocate, Drake’s ruling was ultimately affected by James and Gaye Glass, LaRue’s neighbors and witnesses to the 2010 will. Both testified the will was not read aloud and LaRue did not explicitly confirm she knew what she was signing.

According to www.wwltv.com, LaRue was a cheerleader for Southeastern and went to a career as a physical education teacher in New Orleans.

“The Southeastern Foundation is proud that it defended and honored the legitimate intent of a wonderful friend and longtime member of the Southeastern family,” James stated. “Likewise, the Foundation is pleased to announce the creation of the Myra LaRue Endowed Scholarship Fund that will help support the education of many Southeastern students in perpetuity.”