Court Feud Over Estate of Songwriter Ends in Ohio

By: Lisa Cornwell - AP Writer
By: Lisa Cornwell - AP Writer

CINCINNATI (AP) - A long-running legal feud between the four children of a late country music songwriter and their evangelist aunt ended Monday when a judge approved placing the family's share of his catalog into a trust fund for them.

The closing of the estate by a probate judge in Hamilton, north of Cincinnati, ended five years of wrangling between the heirs of late country songwriter Darrell "Wayne" Perry and his sister, Darlene Bishop, who became executor of his estate after he died of throat cancer in 2005 at the age of 55.

His children had challenged her handling of the estate and accused her of persuading him to decline medical care in favor of prayer for the cancer. Bishop had said her brothers' children have lied about her.

The estate settlement means that Perry's share of his music catalog, which includes Tim McGraw's "Not a Moment Too Soon," goes to a trust for the children to be administered by Perry's 31-year-old son, Justin Jones.

Jones, of Middletown, said Monday that the catalog's estimated value was about $990,000 with about $440,000 going to the trust and the rest already having gone to a music publishing group and co-writers.

"We won't be able to forget the things Darlene has said and done," Jones said. "It will scar our family for life, but now we can focus now on keeping our father's music legacy alive."

Bishop, co-pastor of , said she also wants to put the dispute behind her. She is co-pastor of southwest Ohio's Solid Rock Church, which became known for a giant Jesus statue that was recently struck by lightning

"They have lied about me and harassed me because they wanted to get their hands on the money, and it's just not worth it," Bishop said. "But I will not hold any bitterness."

She said she was just trying to carry out a promise she made to her brother to handle his estate.

Perry's children filed a wrongful death lawsuit against Bishop in 2006 that was later dropped. It accused Bishop of encouraging her brother to go to God instead of a hospital to treat his cancer. Bishop denied that she ever tried to stop her brother from getting medical treatment and has said she encouraged him to listen to his doctors.

Perry's children also alleged that Bishop took money intended for them, including a life insurance payoff worth nearly $300,000. Bishop denied the allegations, and a judge later ruled she was entitled to the insurance money.

Jones and his brother Bryan Perry, 40, of Nashville, said the music catalog contains nearly 3,000 songs, most of which have not been published or performed - music they think many in the music industry will be eager to get.

"Our main goal is to keep our father's legacy alive and do what he wanted before he died," Jones said.

Besides McGraw's 1994 No. 1 song, other songs by Perry include Toby Keith's "A Woman's Touch" in 1996; "I Only Miss You" from the 1996 Shirley MacLaine movie "The Evening Star"; and "Every Promise I Ever Made" from Kiefer Sutherland's 2002 movie "Desert Saints."

Perry also was a co-writer of Lorrie Morgan's hit, "What Part Of No."

(Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)


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