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What A Way To Go

New Orleans socialite with Houston connections goes out in style with a final celebration

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Mickey Easterling New Orleans socialite obit death April 2014
Spirited New Orleans socialite Mickey Easterling found the perfect resting place for her final celebration. WGNOTV/Twitter

Mickey Easterling was always the life of the party. So it only make sense that she would go out in style in her final celebration on earth.

The New Orleans philanthropist, socialite and "proud Louisiana native," who passed away last week at age 83, wasn't encased in a stuffy casket at her memorial service on Tuesday night. Instead, she rested on a park bench like one in the back yard of her New Orleans home, with a champagne flute in one hand and a cigarette holder in the other. She wore a colorful Leonardo floral gown with a rhinestone pin that spelled "Bitch," a magenta feather boa and stylish black hat.

 Instead, she rested on a park bench like one in the back yard of her New Orleans home, with a champagne flute in one hand and a cigarette holder in the other. 

Longtime observers of Houston's social scene recall that Easterling was a frequent visitor until her health deteriorated in recent years, where her circle of friends included Sylvia Sullivan, Steven Ferrell and Irene Robertson Franz. Easterling originally came to Houston in the early 1980s for the March of Dimes Gourmet Gala, the premier charity fundraiser of the era, and attended lavish parties thrown by Jim Milford and Slade Brown, with publicist Hal Foster in the mix.

Franz recalls the delights of being a house guest at Easterling's New Orleans home. "She would be wearing a turban and high-heel shoes making breakfast," Franz says. "She was amazing."

More than 1,000 guests attended the memorial service/party at the Saenger Theater in downtown New Orleans, and remembered Easterling for her vivacious spirit and philanthrophic contributions. Easterling had planned the service before her death with specific instructions.

"It’s like something out a department store window in New York. On Fifth Avenue,” her close friend Sammy Steele told WGNO-TV about the garden tableau. (Steele did her hair and makeup for the service.)  “This is what she requested. She's sitting in a garden scenery to depict her back yard. This is what she wanted.  No stone was left unturned for this memorial.”

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