Chastity Brione Dunnaville, a Navy lieutenant junior grade and Naval Academy graduate who had played on its women's rugby team, died of rhabdomyosarcoma Sunday at University of Maryland Medical Center. She was 24 and had lived in Lauraville.
Born in Baltimore and raised on Catalpha Road, she attended Garrett Heights Elementary School. While in fifth grade, her parents took her to private schools for visits as a prospective student. One day, she stopped at Notre Dame Preparatory School in Towson.
"She came out skipping," said her mother, Taryn Dunnaville. "She said, 'That's the school I want to go to.'"
She played volleyball and basketball at Notre Dame and was elected president of its Athletic Association. She also worked to produce the school's annual student-run production, the Gym Meet.
"She didn't have a single group of girlfriends. Everyone was her friend," said Haley Harman, a former classmate who lives in Baltimore. "She made friends with the students, faculty, staff and coaches. She had great relationships with the whole Notre Dame Prep community."
Ms. Harman said that students suspected she would do well at the Naval Academy because she kept her navy-blue Notre Dame uniform and its white collar and cuffs so perfectly. In her senior year, she received the award for best uniform.
During her 2006 graduation year, she received the school's highest honor, the white blazer, "for the girl who exemplifies the ideals of Notre Dame Prep."
"I knew her as a delightful, hardworking, friendly, conscientious eighth-grader," said Gail Caltrider, a Notre Dame Prep social studies teacher. "And I watched her grow into an amazing leader. She had integrity. Chastity's word was gold."
Friends said it was her dream to attend the Naval Academy. A 2006 Baltimore Sun article detailed her first weeks in Annapolis. "She weathered plebe summer with the wind of family tradition at her back," The article said.
Her grandmother Gloria Irving told The Sun at the time, "She's from a long line of Navy. Her mother had 21 years in the Navy and her two uncles are on active duty.'"
Ms. Dunnaville said in the story: "It was long days and early mornings, but I'd do it again. I have a lot more teamwork and leadership skills, and move a lot faster, with more urgency. You learn how to change uniforms and sheets fast in rack drills."
In 2009, she became the plebe summer regimental commander for the Class of 2013.
"She played rugby for the Naval Academy and was getting invited to national tournaments," said her brother, Leslie A. Dunnaville IV. "She was looking to go to the Olympics because there is a possibility that rugby will be admitted as a new sport."
After her 2010 graduation from the Naval Academy, where she earned a degree in information technology, she was initially stationed in Annapolis and worked in the school's admissions office. She had planned to go into Naval Intelligence when she diagnosed with rhabdomyosarcoma, a type of cancer, in September 2010. She also was an assistant coach of the Naval Academy women's rugby team in 2011 and 2012.
"She was someone to look to for advice and strength when you were going through something tough," said a friend, Diana Healy of Baltimore.
While on medical leave from the Navy, Ms. Dunnaville returned to Notre Dame Prep as a volunteer and helped teach classes in women's studies and civil liberties.
"At that time she had no hair. She would take a seat in the rear of the classroom and when she spoke there would be silence," said Ms. Caltrider, the Notre Dame teacher. "Her character and warmth came through. She had the ability to meet the kids and ask them to take a step farther."
Ms. Caltrider reflected on Ms. Dunnaville's accomplishments in her 24 years.
"As a mentor, she said, 'You need to remember the women who go before you but also remember the ones who go behind you,'" she said.
"My sister was one of the toughest people I have ever met," her brother said. "She was doing exercises in the intensive care unit the day she died."
A funeral with full military honors will be held at 10 a.m. Friday at Mount Pleasant Church and Ministries, 6000 Radecke Ave.
In addition to her mother, brother and grandmother, all of Baltimore, survivors include her father, Leslie A. Dunnaville III of Roanoke, Va.; and her grandfather Leslie A. Dunnaville Jr., also of Roanoke.Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun