Kleinert Avenue. Photos by Ariana Allison.

Garden District’s Mardi Gras trees pay tribute to the memory of Lindley Dodson

If you’ve visited Kleinert Avenue in Baton Rouge’s Garden District in the past few weeks, you’ve likely noticed the bows in Mardi Gras colors tied around each oak. While they may at first seem like average festive decorations in light of the Mardi Gras season, the bows are actually hung in memory of Lindley Spaht Dodson, the physician and Baton Rouge native killed this past January in Austin, Texas.

Dodson grew up on Kleinert, where her parents, Paul and Katherine Spaht, still live today. Remembering Dodson’s fondness of Mardi Gras and festivals, the close-knit community of neighbors decided to pay tribute to her by adding touches of purple, green and gold to the sprawling live oaks on the median.

“Margo Bouanchaud Hayes and I talked about how people in Austin put Mardi Gras bows on trees all over the city in memory of Lindley, who loved Mardi Gras,” says Carol Anne Blitzer, a long-time neighbor of the Spahts. “I thought the plan was to put bows on two large oaks at Lindley’s parents’ house and bows on a tree on each side of a turning area on Kleinert. I left for two hours and when I got back, Margo’s husband, Lance Hayes, had decorated all 50 trees on Kleinert.”

The trees in the Jefferson Place neighborhood have also been decorated, according to Hayes. Dodson’s brother Carlos Spaht and his wife, Julia, decorated trees around Bocage along with more friends.

In Austin, Dodson is remembered as a beloved pediatrician of Dell Children’s Medical Center and an assistant professor at UT Austin’s Dell Medical School. The Austin community has honored Lindley’s life and contributions in many ways, and she is remembered by friends and strangers alike.

“There are Mardi Gras-colored bows on every tree, sign and house near her office and home and all of her friends’ homes,” says lifelong friend Laura Billings Key, who also grew up on Kleinert. The Austin Symphony Orchestra played in her honor with a performance of Bach’s “Air on the G String”, and a vigil was held at her office.