DINA MARIE TURCHI'S parents didn't always want to know what she was up to.
Like jumping out of airplanes.
Her mother, Marie, doesn't even know where her daughter did her skydiving. All she knows is that when Dina invited her mother and her little niece Briana to watch her parachute from the sky, her mother said, "No way."
In addition to not wanting to see her child risk her life for thrills, she didn't want Briana, then about 3, to witness the feat because "she might want to do it."
Dina Marie Turchi packed a lot of living into a tragically short life. She died of complications of leukemia Dec. 7 at the age of 43. She lived in Margate City, N.J.
She died at the MD Anderson Cancer Center, in Houston, where she had gone in a final hope to find a cure for the blood disease that was killing her.
Dina was a woman of many talents. She studied karate and received a black belt. She was always a straight-A student in high school. She played the piano, flute and piccolo and was the drum majorette at her alma mater, Atlantic City High School.
She was an inveterate traveler, bopping over half the globe, including missionary trips to spread the word of the Gospel for her adopted church, Calvary Chapel, in Old Bridge, N.J.
"Loving, caring, giving," her mother said in summing up her daughter's character. "She was so busy helping everybody else, she didn't get her own things done. She was always thinking of someone else."
Sympathy cards have been pouring in from friends she made in her travels, and her parents found many thank-you notes from people she had helped over the years.
Dina was a beautiful young woman who had won a Miss Teen contest in New Jersey, and probably could have done well in future beauty pageants, except that she had other things on her mind.
She was raised Catholic, but in later years discovered Calvary Chapel, a nondenominational Christian church devoted to spreading the Gospel worldwide.
Dina taught science for 14 years at Westfield High School, but left her teaching career to become an administrative assistant to the church pastor, Lloyd Pulley.
"She felt this other calling," her mother said. "She was very spiritual. We found a stack of Bibles in her room. People were always giving her Bibles."
In recent years, Dina's illness caused her to lose the sight in her left eye, making reading difficult. A friend gave her the Bible on tape so she could continue her studies.
She received a bachelor's degree in biology from the University of Pennsylvania, and later a master of science degree in education from Penn. She was a member of the Scramble Band at Penn, which marched at football games in formations spelling out messages.
When she became involved with Calvary Chapel, she traveled with the church to Israel and participated in a Christian mission in Mexico. She also traveled to Hawaii, Rome, London, Canada and Edinburgh, Scotland, either on vacations, with a marching band or the church.
Besides her parents, Robert, and the former Marie Barone, she is survived by her twin brother, Robert Jr.; sisters Michele Turnbull and Pamela Dobo; her grandmother, Diana Barone, and her fiance, Alan Disbrow.
Services: Memorial Mass 11 a.m. Saturday at Holy Trinity Parish, Blessed Sacrament Campus, Jerome and Ventnor avenues, Margate. Friends may call at 9 a.m. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Leukemia and Lymphona Society, New Jersey Chapter, c/o Caitlin Quinn, 14 Commerce Drive, Suite 301, Cranford NJ 07016.