Dina Ann DeMaio

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Dina Ann DeMaio, 30; her son 'was her world'

Profile / Obituary

Always in motion, always pushing forward, always planning the future. Those who loved Dina Ann DeMaio, 30, say determination defined her life.

"Nothing was going to stop her," her brother Vincent M. DeMaio said in the kitchen of the West Warwick apartment Dina shared with their mother, Patricia Belanger, and Dina's 7-year-old son, Justin Perry DeMaio.

"She was motivated. She had energy. People around here have a simple life, simple jobs. Dina wanted more, for herself and her son."

She graduated from Lincoln High School in 1991 and went on to be the first in her family to graduate from college, earning her associate's and then her bachelor's degree in court stenography from Johnson & Wales University in 1999.

She worked full-time for the last six years at Textron Financial Corp. in Providence as a legal secretary. She was a single mother, raising Justin with the help of her mother.

Last year, Dina started a master's program at her alma mater, studying to become a paralegal.

She'd get home from night classes and get to work on a computer in a corner of her mother's small living room, studying until midnight, rising at 6 a.m. to get Justin ready for school.

She never complained.

Dina took a job waitressing at The Station last November to make a little extra pocket money "so she could take Justin out, get him things," Patricia said.

Patricia raced to Rhode Island Hospital hours after the fire with a photograph of her eldest daughter, begging for information, and drove to Boston to see if one of the two Jane Does was her Dina.

But no one matched the description: 5'3", slim, with short, sleek light-brown hair and a wide, warm smile.

That Thursday was Dina's 30th birthday.

Her older brother Vincent called her to wish her a happy birthday between fares at his job as a cab driver near Austin, Texas.

"She said, 'I'm 20, not 30,' and I said 'I guess that makes me 22, then, not 32,' " Vincent said.

She told him that her boss had called her in that night so that she could celebrate her birthday with her friends on Friday, the night she usually worked.

One of Dina's friends who worked with her at Textron, Dawn Brindamour, said a group of 12 cousins and friends planned to take her to their favorite haunts, Restaurant Prov and Art Bar.

"She was the organizer, pulling us all together," Dawn said. "She loved life. She planned trips. We all went to Universal Studios last year with our children and had the time of our lives."

Before she left for work that night, she and her mother discussed houses -- Dina was starting to look at two-family houses near her mother's Pawtuxet Terrace apartment. She told her mother she wanted them all to go to Las Vegas this year. She said maybe after her master's, she'd join the reserves.

"She was always making plans," Patricia said. "Justin was her world. How she had the energy to do all she did, I'll never know. She amazed me."

Besides her mother, brother and son, Dina is survived by her father, Vincent DeMaio of Johnston; her stepfather, James Garvey of Warwick; her stepmother, Pamela DeMaio of Coventry; brother Eric Krause of Lincoln, and four sisters, Jessica Lee Garvey of Attleboro, Kristy Ann Garvey and Danielle DeMaio, both of Warwick, and Brenda Poette of Pawtucket; her maternal grandmother, Therese Belanger of North Attleboro; her paternal grandparents, Vincent and Lillian DeMaio, both of Johnston, and several nieces and nephews.

A Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated Monday at 10 a.m. in St. Clement Church, 111 Long St., Warwick. Burial will be private.

-- Jennifer D. Jordan

source Providence Journal


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