Susanne Dowouis developed an affinity for the land as a small child. Every summer, she and her sister, Eve, would attend Camp Gay Valley and visit their maternal grandparents at their home on top of Caesar’s Head Mountain in South Carolina. Atop Caesar’s Head, they could see Dismal Valley down below, which their aunt would eventually deed to a conservation organization. Leaving a legacy was a family value. Early in the 20th century, Susanne and Eve’s great uncle, Dr. William Chambers Coker, started the well-known and highly regarded Coker Arboretum at the University of North Carolina.
Her family’s commitment to conservation stuck with Susanne throughout her life. So it’s no wonder she bequeathed her property in St. Tammany Parish to the Land Trust for Louisiana when she died last year. The 20-acre property on Three Rivers Road in Covington is part of a larger complex of wooded acreage along the Tchefuncte River that offers a refuge for wildlife and flood storage for the surrounding community. The Land Trust is protecting the property from further development through a conservation easement, and selling the property and homestead with those restrictions through its Trade Lands program.
Susanne loved this place and would come home to it many times throughout her life. Upon graduation from high school, Susanne took off for college and pursued her interests in the Civil Rights movement and communal life. It was during this time that her parents purchased the property as an escape from the grit of New Orleans, where they lived, to find respite on the shaded banks of the Tchefuncte River. Susanne eventually made her way back to Louisiana and it was on these 20 acres where she and her then-husband, Murph Dowouis, settled down to raise their son, Ammon.
A spiritual person, Susanne became a Buddhist when Ammon was a young boy. Her practice deepened upon young Ammon’s untimely death, and Susanne shared her beloved 20 acres as a Buddhist sanctuary with the community. Thus, many in the Covington and Greater New Orleans area remember Susanne’s 20 acres as a place of contemplation and spiritual growth. The walking paths and pond remain integral features of the property and offer peace and tranquility that is hard to find in an urban setting.
The Land Trust for Louisiana is deeply grateful for the tremendous gift Susanne has left our organization and committed to seeing her legacy of land conservation continue on in perpetuity.