GREENSBURG — Myra Darouse LaRue was a “feisty, fiery rascal” who had trouble taking care of herself but who was lucid in the weeks before her death, according to testimony Monday in a lawsuit over who should inherit her estate.
The Southeastern Development Foundation, the fundraising arm of Southeastern Louisiana University, has sued LaRue’s sister and three of her nieces after they were named her sole heirs in a will dated 13 days before she died in October 2010.
LaRue’s sister Mary Pardue and nieces, Mary Sue Darouse, Judith Pardue Polidori and Barbara Pardue, are named in the lawsuit.
The foundation has alleged the October 2010 will was obtained under duress while LaRue was undergoing treatment for cancer and it is not legal.
The foundation is asking state District Judge Ernest Drake to enforce a will signed in March 2009 in which the foundation was to receive LaRue’s 11-acre property and house in Greensburg.
The property has been assessed at a value of $380,000, according to parish tax assessor records.
“Myra was a rascal” who liked to be on the go, testified her niece and heir, Polidori.
She loved to go out to eat at Jacmel and Tope La in Hammond and to shop, Polidori said.
Things changed after the death of her husband, Robert LaRue, in 2003, Polidori said.
“We saw a lot of predators after he died,” she said. “Distant relatives, a neighbor. She became very vulnerable.”
Polidori conceded Myra LaRue could be tough to get along with.
“She was very fiery, feisty and she was very confrontational,” Polidori said. “She could be very venomous to family members, to friends, acquaintances.”
Polidori said the first time she had heard of a will was on a Sept. 29 trip to the bank with her aunt, when LaRue told a bank employee she intended to make a new will.
Polidori said she did not know about the March 2009 will.
The foundation’s lead attorney, Walter “Bud” Antin, pressed Polidori on whether her aunt was her usual self after her cancer diagnosis on Sept. 14, 2010.
“Was she as fierce as she had been in June?” Antin asked Polidori.
“She had a lesser degree of fierceness,” Polidori answered.
“Was she as argumentative?” Antin asked. “As fiery? As feisty?”
“She had mellowed considerably in October 2010,” Polidori said.
Antin asked if LaRue had continued to shop like she had before, or go to her favorite restaurants.
She had not, Polidori said.
In earlier testimony, Lori Hall, a nurse who evaluated LaRue for home health care on Oct. 12, 2010, then again for hospice care on Oct. 18, described LaRue as “able to express complex thoughts clearly.”
“She knew she was in her home and her name,” Hall told Ron White, who represents LaRue’s sister and her nieces.
“At the time I saw her, she was alert and oriented and able to answer my questions,” Hall said of LaRue.
LaRue did need help with basic tasks, such as dressing and going to the bathroom, Hall said.
Some of Hall’s conclusions came from observations and some from information given by LaRue’s caregivers, which included her sister and nieces, she said.
LaRue died Oct. 22. She did not have children.
Testimony will continue and may conclude Tuesday in the trial, which was continued after a week’s testimony from Aug. 15 through Aug. 21.