MENIFEE, Calif. — Dr. Trina Joy Valencich passed away peacefully on June 30, 2019, surrounded by friends and family. Trina died from complications related to the effects of Alzheimer's disease. Trina was born Feb. 3, 1943, in Compton, California, to Ethel Van Matre and Harvey Chaney. After Ethel and Harvey's marriage ended in divorce, Ethel returned to her hometown of Trinidad, Colorado, for a visit and ran into Charles Valencich who she knew from high school. When Trina was about 4-years-old, Ethel and Charles married and Charles adopted Trina.

After attending local elementary schools she graduated from Excelsior High School in Cerritos, California, in 1959. During her high school tenure the family took up homesteading in Pasco, Washington, where she helped Charles raise crops and chickens. She remembered this short period fondly, having learned new skills and adapting to living in a different environment. The family returned to the Los Angeles area after 1 1/2 years in Pasco.

After graduating high school, Trina married Edwin Burns and in 1961 gave birth to her first child Levai. The marriage did not last and, after their break up, she also began her university education while holding down a job in the aerospace industry. Being a single mother while pursuing a degree in the sciences was a difficult road and Trina could not have met this challenge if it had not been for the support and love of her family. Trina worked very hard and obtained a bachelor of science degree in chemistry from Cal. State Long Beach University. She then attended the University of California, Irvine where she received her Ph.D in physical chemistry in 1974. Her Doctoral thesis "Trajectory Studies of Hot Atom Reactions" received considerable attention from the theoretical chemistry community and resulted in two major publications in top chemical physics journals and many invitations to present her work at national and international chemical meetings.

After two visiting professor appointments at UCLA (3 years 1973 -1976) and Texas A&M (1976 -1977) she accepted a permanent appointment as assistant professor at Cal State Los Angeles where she was promoted to Associate Professor with tenure in 1982. Her period at CSULA was very productive. She completed a single author paper and received a grant from the Research Corporation in support of her work, while teaching university level chemistry courses. She attracted several students to her highly sophisticated research projects.

In 1993 her husband, Edward, was offered a position at the University of Montana; for him a dream come true, for Trina a difficult decision as she did not want to leave her family and her job. Being the giving person that she was, she decided to go to Montana. Although the University of Montana did not offer her a position equivalent to her appointment at CSULA, the Department recognized her abilities and made her a visiting Associate Professor. She soon became supervisor of General Chemistry Laboratories. She also brought with her a graduate student from CSULA, Edgar Arcia, who completedhis Ph.D at the University of Montana. She continued to teach at the University of Montana until her retirement in 2013.

In addition to her professional accomplishments, Trina was a multitalented person. She was an excellent artist and homemaker. She made all the curtains in her house, made clothing for her daughters, upholstered furniture and made up main dishes for dinner on the fly such as "tortilla flats" and "captain beef heart." She had an uncanny ability for winning at board games, was an avid tennis player and was also a bridge player.

In spite of all these accomplishments, the thing that Trina should be most remembered for is her strength, wonderful warmth, giving nature and what an amazing mother she was. Her smile could light up a room. She was a great listener and, although she was very intelligent, she never made anyone feel small. Always ready with a kiss or a hug, it was a pleasure to go anywhere with her as people's faces would light up when they saw her. She was a patient and caring mother and will be very much missed by her husband, 3 daughters, son, and all who knew her. She was a special mother, an educator and a friend.

Trina is survived by her husband of 40+ years, Edward Rosenberg; her daughter Levai; her son David (married to Marah, grandchildren Heidi and Lana); her daughter, Jennifer and her stepdaughter Anna Booker (married to Noah Booker, grandchildren Julian and Flora).

Trina was diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease in 2013. After seeing the progress of the disease it was clear that she had had it for several years before her diagnoses. The effects of the disease were most likely hidden from her family for years, but her strength and intelligence persisted until the end. 

There will be a celebration of her life, Aug. 17, 1-4 p.m. at the Oasis Clubhouse, 29100 Midway Summit Road, Menifee, CA 92584. For more info email: edward.rosenberg@mso.umt.edu.

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