Michael and Dolores Kara took care to donate Libby Dodson’s fortune where it would please her most: to Live at Lynn, the university’s showcase of top acts from Broadway and national touring companies.
“Libby would have been very, very happy,” said Dolores Kara, Dodson’s sister-in-law. “To know that Jan McArt named a theater series for her, that would thrill her.”
Michael Kara is Dodson’s brother. He looked after Dodson when she fell ill and, with Dolores, oversaw his sister’s financial affairs. In 2005, the Karas gave $500,000 to Lynn as part of the disbursement of Dodson’s estate. Lynn’s director of theater arts development, Jan McArt, promptly launched Libby Dodson’s Live at Lynn.
“Without the Karas,” McArt said, “we would not have been able to do the series.”
Libby Dodson, Michael Kara and their sister were raised in a small coal-mining town in Pennsylvania. Their parents were Hungarian immigrants, grocery store owners, who insisted their children go to college. Dodson attended nursing school and went on to earn a master’s degree in nursing from Catholic University in Washington, D.C. She married Harry Dodson, an executive with the Veterans Administration, and she was a nurse there. At one time, she was the personal nurse of Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis.
When the Dodsons retired, they moved to Boca Raton. The Karas soon followed.
“Libby’s background was helping people,” Dolores Kara said. “So when they moved to Florida, she got straight to it. She was a very charitable person.”
Dodson loved giving to the local Red Cross, especially its annual ball and Mad Hatters luncheon.
She also loved live shows. When they lived in Washington, the Dodsons often attended performances at the Kennedy Center. After Dodson’s husband died, her brother, Michael, was her escort to McArt’s Royal Palm Theater in Mizner Park, where she and McArt became fast friends.
Dolores, who was an auditor for a steel company outside of Pittsburgh, and Michael, retired from the office of the auditor general for the state of Pennsylvania, also call McArt a dear friend.
“We love to see her at shows,” Dolores said. “And she includes us when she has theater people in town from up north. The conversations are always interesting when Jan is in the room. I love it. I just take it all in. It’s like having a front-row seat.”
McArt said the Karas’ decision to donate part of Dodson’s estate to Lynn launched Live at Lynn in a special way.
“We are very grateful for their generosity. And I am personally grateful for their friendship.”