Megan and Justin Monson, of Neshanic Station, lost their premature son Chase Harlan on May 8, 2020. The Monson’s, who are avid readers, chose to honor their son’s life and create a living legacy by donating $10,000 to the Somerset County Library System of New Jersey (SCLSNJ) in his memory.

“We wanted to pay tribute to our son in a timeless way that others can enjoy and that we can visit with our family and Chase’s future siblings,” said Mrs. Monson.

Mrs. Monson, along with Library staff input, chose to use the donation to install handmade, memorial rocking chairs and matching bins of enduring story books, to be placed in the children’s departments at all 10 Library branches. The chairs will reflect a memorial sentiment: “In Loving Memory of Chase Harlan Monson.”

Continued Mrs. Monson, “The memorial chairs – Chase’s Chairs – will benefit the Library for years to come.”

Mrs. Monson fondly recalls visiting local libraries throughout her life, especially the Bridgewater branch, where she studied for her Bar Exam and attended workshops. These fond memories, and the family’s ties to both Somerset and Hunterdon Counties, led the Monson’s to donate to the Library System.

“When Mrs. Monson reached out to us, we were honored that she chose to work with the Library on memorializing her son, but struggled with how we could do so in a way that would be long-lasting yet intimate,” said Brian Auger, county Library administrator. “Then it hit us; what better way than sturdy and comfortable rocking chairs in each branch with a supply of perennially classic children’s books? I have no doubt that Chase’s Chairs will become favorite places for small children visiting our libraries and reading books with parents and siblings.”

Each Library branch will comprise a selection of classic children’s titles to accompany the rocking chairs, including “The Very Hungry Caterpillar” by Eric Carle, “Where the Wild Things Are” by Maurice Sendek, “Green Eggs and Ham” by Dr. Seuss, and more.

The memorial gift was collected through a donation drive, spearheaded by Lynda Bennett, Monson’s colleague, and the result of over 120 friends and family members’ generosity. The couple also installed a Little Free Library in Chase’s honor at White Oak Park in Branchburg. 

The memorial rocking chairs are expected to arrive in Library branches in March 2021.The Library System will be hosting an honorary ceremony once the chairs are installed. 

For more information about Chase’s Chairs, contact Auger: bauger@sclibnj.org. To make a donation or memorial gift to the Library System, contact director@sclibnj.org.