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Julie Margaret Van Sciver, 39, descendant of Philadelphia furniture firm and adventuress.

Killed in fall while paragliding in Colorado.

Van Sciver.
Van Sciver.Read more

JULIE Margaret Van Sciver seemed to thrive on high-risk adventure.

Meg, as she was known to family and friends, left Philadelphia to pursue often risky adventures in many corners of the globe.

On May 12, she was paragliding over Lookout Mountain in Colorado when she fell 40 feet. Emergency personnel took her off the mountain that afternoon, and she was taken to St. Anthony Hospital in Lakewood, Colo. She was pronounced dead at 8 that night. She was 39.

A descendant of Philadelphia-area furniture manufacturer J.B. Van Sciver, Meg was a veteran of the Peace Corps, in which she served in Tanzania, and worked in Rwanda with Engineers Without Borders.

But in addition, she tested her skill and adventurous spirit on mountain ski trails, long-distance hiking, running, swimming, diving, and hang gliding and paragliding, among others.

Meg was long active as a pilot with the Rocky Mountain Hang Gliding and Paragliding Association. In paragliding, the pilot is suspended in a harness by cables from a curved fabric wing that rides air currents. Some trips can last hours.

It was not known why Meg fell.

Meg was born in Philadelphia to Carol M. and Joseph B. Van Sciver III, onetime president of the furniture company that was founded in Camden in 1881.

She graduated from William Penn Charter School, then went on to Lehigh University in Bethlehem, Pa., where she earned a bachelor of science. She earned master's degrees in education and business at the University of Colorado.

Meg began her long interest in Africa when she joined the Peace Corps and served in Tanzania, in East Africa. For two summers, she worked with Engineers Without Borders in Rwanda, in Central and East Africa.

Recently she began working for Africa Aid, which partners with American universities to build poverty-alleviation programs and support for African families, communities and countries.

"Meg enjoyed all that the Colorado outdoors had to offer," her family said. "She hiked, skied and biked avidly."

She participated in a number of triathlons with her brother, Joseph B. Van Sciver IV.

Meg worked in fiber-optics and telecom businesses, before starting her own company, Vanland Real Estate and Investments LLC, in Jefferson County, Colo.

"Meg did more in her 39 years than most people do in a lifetime, and made many friends all over the world," her family said. "She entertained and endeared herself to all she met with her dry sense of humor and incredible joie de vivre."

Besides her parents and brother, she is survived by a sister, Carolyn Armstrong, and her fiancé, Christopher Webster.

Services: Memorial service 10 a.m. Friday at St. Paul's Episcopal Church, 22 E. Chestnut Hill Ave., Chestnut Hill.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the William Penn Charter School, Africa Aid or the Humane Society of Boulder Valley, Colo.