Chiara Howard

Chiara’s Quiet Grace Gazebo, ‘Where trouble melts like lemon drops’

December 29, 2011 // 0 Comments

by MATT MARN What began in tragedy for a Rockford family soon grew into a life-affirming memorial. Now the city can remember young Chiara Howard’s selfless nature and warm smile for generations to come. Chiara’s Quiet Grace Gazebo was built to honor the life and memory of Chiara, who drowned in Lake Michigan in July 2008. The gazebo, which sits on the campus of Roguewood Elementary School, was dedicated with a ceremony held last month. “It’s not time to be licking wounds, but time to celebrate her life, and be inspired,” said Carrie Wysong, Chiara’s mother. The gazebo has eight windows, each representing one of Chiara’s strongest virtues: humbleness, sincerity, joyful, compassionate, considerate, loving, creativity and kindness. Wysong said the landscape around the gazebo was planned by a professor and a student at Calvin College. She said all plants and flowers in the surrounding area are native to Michigan, and there will also be a garden for butterflies—a sign of new life. “Classes in Roguewood and other schools can learn about plants and wildlife, and all of it is specifically designed towards Chiara and her love of learning,” Wysong said. “I feel what really matters in life are the simple things. The gazebo has no bells and whistles, no neon lights. It’s just simple. That’s Chiara.” Wayne Visbeen of Visbeen Associates was the designer and architect of the gazebo. Visbeen said, while he didn’t know Chiara, Wysong came to him and told him the story of her daughter’s passing. “She knew we create a lot of things based on people’s emotions,” Visbeen said. “We just started sketching and drawing. There were a lot of ideas with windows and stained glass that really harkened back to her daughter. I sat down with her and came up with some original sketches, and created the vision that everybody could draw onto.” Wysong said as people enjoy this gazebo, she hopes they are encouraged to remember and be thankful for who and what they have. “I hope more people can come here and meet. When I see kids in the gazebo, playing or reading to each other… words cannot express the relief and gratitude I felt,” said Wysong. “Chiara’s third out of four kids. Right from birth, she loved […]