CARLSBAD — Chase Quartarone remembered his days at Kelly Elementary School so fondly that he wanted to create a garden for Rosie the Reading Dog, a black Lab who was the special guest at student readings every Friday. Rosie’s guardian is Principal Tressie Armstrong.
Chase was in the middle of the project, the final step in becoming an Eagle Scout with troop 746, when he passed away of non-Hodgkins lymphoma on Dec. 7, 2009. He was 16, a junior at Carlsbad High School.
“At the memorial service, Scout Leader Mark Jolley approached me and asked if the troop could take on Chase’s project and complete it for him so they could make him an Eagle Scout,” Armstrong said.
Chase presented his plan to Armstrong in 2008 and secured necessary approval from her, the district maintenance department, his Eagle Scout advisor and scout master.
He had a precise vision for the garden, which included a gate, separate wheelchair access and a fence.
Students would enter along a gravel path, with a flower border to protect the grass from traffic. Flower boxes would be placed around a tree to add splash of color.
There would be a Kelly green umbrella decorated with dogs and bones as well as a custom dog house for Rosie.
A sign would be painted, “Read with Rosie.”
Understandably, progress came to a halt as Chase grew sicker.
“There was a very short period when we thought his cancer was in remission,” said his father, John Quartarone. “During that time he was able to send letters to businesses to find out about the costs, and solicit donations for the building products.”
Since his passing, John Quartarone has become a catalyst in coordinating donations of building materials and labor, which will be provided by the Eagle Scouts. He is working closely with scout master Brent Hurst, who was also Chase’s dentist.
Teachers Andrea Team and Sue Dewulf will enlarge a piece of Chase’s artwork and incorporate it into a wall of tiles, each crafted by a student.
The project will be completed by May and commemorated with a ceremony.
“Chase was passionate about getting this done,” Armstrong explained. “He is leaving a legacy of reading and love of animals at this school. As long as I’m here we’ll have a perpetual garden. It’s going to be Chase’s spot.”
Chase is remembered as a young Renaissance man who was an accomplished pianist, artist and sculptor.
“He had so many talents,” John Quartarone said. “He loved designing environmental vehicles. He loved to cook — he could cook anything. He also loved baking.”
Chase was a natural athlete. He was active in basketball, football and wrestling. His favorite sport was baseball.
Most of all, he loved animals.
“He always wanted to live in Kentucky and have 1,000 horses,” John Quartarone said. “He wanted big dogs like Great Danes, Newfoundlands, bloodhounds and golden retrievers.”
Since the passing of Chase’s beloved golden retriever, Topaz, the family has welcomed a descendent of the pup.
Lani, which means “heaven” in Hawaiian, was bred as a therapy dog. In addition to substituting for Rosie, she will take on additional hours in Chase’s Garden to make the reading program more available to more children at the school.