After a years-long career running a hugely successful engineering firm that she founded, Roxanna Trinka is now leading the Boca Raton, Florida chapter of Independent Women’s Network. She’s busier than ever, but “retired.”
Trinka sees IWN as “a well-constructed vehicle” for conservative women to use to combat some of the harmful trends we see today and build a better society. It all started, as so many good things do, with a regular women’s luncheon group in Boca Raton. “We had fabulous speakers,” Roxanna recently told a reporter, “including Florida Jolt’s founder Jack Furnari. We would leave the luncheons energized with a rah-rah feeling, but what do we do between luncheons? I wondered, ‘How do I create an in action group for those who want to do more?’ That’s when philanthropist Yvonne Boice and the Palm Beach County mayor’s wife, Pam Weinroth, shared information about the Independent Women’s Network.”
Yvonne Boice is also a board member of the Independent Women’s Forum. So, when Trinka asked her to help formulate a next step, she knew exactly what to do. In introducing IWN to Trinka, Mrs. Boice said, “Roxanna, this is your ball, run with it.” Of course, Boice knew that Trinka didn’t really need to be told to run with any ball—because that is what Trinka always does. She has always given her all, whether it was working as a hairdresser, singing professionally in Holiday Inn lounges, or founding Baseline Engineering & Land Surveying, Inc., which she recently sold.
Trinka is excited about the possibilities of IWN and, in particular, loves the educational tools IWN has created, especially the popular “Woketionary,” which gives woke meanings of words, and then supplies the real meaning.
In introducing IWN to Trinka, Yvonne Boice said, “Roxanna, this is your ball, run with it.”
“I order copies of the ‘Woketionaries’ by the bushel,” Roxanna says. “I hand them out to soccer moms and cheerleader moms—the younger women who are busy trying to be moms, or wives, or trying to hold down a demanding job, and who might not have the time to get as heavily involved in these issues as I am able to do. This way, I can be a vehicle within a vehicle. I can spread the word and help educate younger women, who will be able to make a difference in the future.”
Trinka is quick to note the original luncheon group is still going strong and that the two activities naturally “spill” into each other, though there is no requirement to belong to both. Neither group cares about party affiliation, she stresses. “How about we’re just human beings facilitating a change?” Trinka once asked, when interviewed by a Florida reporter. “Right now, we’re all aware of the issues concerned parents have with our school boards. Their party affiliation does not matter; these parents are upset by what the schools teach their children. They rightfully want accountability from our school board. Why pigeon-hole any of them? It’s divisive to force them into specific categories.”
We can tell you one person who’ll never be pigeon-holed: Roxanna Trinka, a true original. So, where did it all start, she is asked.
“Okay. Well, I was born and raised in Rockford, Illinois, and, at that time, it was the second largest city in Illinois, known as the nut, bolt, and screw capital of the world. A very industrial town. My father was a police officer, my mother was a hairdresser. We were, you know, a blue-collar family. I had a fantastic childhood, but I didn’t like the cold. And this is probably my favorite part of the story, we would vacation in Florida. And I told my parents, I was probably eight years old, as we’re driving back to Illinois and I’m crying, I said, ‘as soon as I graduate high school, I am moving to Florida.’ And that’s exactly what I did.”
The band leader thought Roxanna’s name sounded too much like the Roxy Theater, so she sang under the name Dana Corey.
Growing up in Rockford, Roxanna sang in the choir at the Baptist church (her grandfather was a Baptist minister) and at musical productions at Rockford East High. “I love to sing,” she says. “So, I started in the church choir as a little kid and then, in junior high school we would do little musicals, but high school is where I had the best exposure to theater. In high school, we had the best music director, and we did operettas like Brigadoon. I never had the lead, but I was always in the chorus, and I was always in the dance ensemble. I was even the dance director for Brigadoon, which basically means you work with the teacher of dance at the high school, and they would say that you’re the assistant dance director, which I just found hilarious.”
As much as Roxanna loved singing in musicals and growing up with her two sisters, the Illinois weather wasn’t getting any warmer. She took off for Florida immediately after being presented with her high school diploma. “I graduated midterm of my junior year,” she recalls. “And a girlfriend of mine had a grandmother who lived in St. Petersburg, Florida, and her grandmother was dying of cancer and she wanted to go to Florida and take care of her. And I said, ‘Well I’ve got a car, I’ll go with you.’ I called the Merle Norman Cosmetic Studio in St. Pete, because I was working for one in Rockford, and told them I was looking for a job and I was moving to Florida. So, we packed up my car, my dad made sure that my oil was changed, and my tires were good, and I had a car top carrier and a bike rack on the back of my little Cougar XR7. And off we went, and we moved to Florida, and I got an apartment that was $175 a month including utilities.”
While working for Merle Norman by day, Roxanna moonlighted as a cocktail waitress. She fudged her age to get the job. When she read an advertisement looking for a female lead singer for a band, she was intrigued. With her musical talent, she was a natural. “So, I auditioned, and they hired me,” she recalls. “I sang a Stevie Wonder song, ‘You Are the Sunshine of My Life,’ and I got hired. And again, I lied about my age. I said I was 21. We did what was called back in the day the Foxfire Lounge Circuit. In the Holiday Inns, the lounges were all named the Foxfire Lounge. So, we did that circuit along the west coast of Florida.” The band leader thought Roxanna’s name sounded too much like the Roxy Theater, so she sang under the name Dana Corey. “How hilarious is that?” she asks. She added impressions of famous people, including Mae West, to the act, with the band leader doing his impression of W.C. Fields and others.
“I order copies of the ‘Woketionaries’ by the bushel,” Roxanna says. “I hand them out to soccer moms and cheerleader moms—younger women trying to be moms or hold down a job.”
She is asked if she ever used Mae West’s signature line, “Come up and see me sometime.”
“Oh, all that. All that. We would do one set that was a show set then we would do current stuff, much of which was disco back then,” she says laughing. “The disco set would get everybody up and dancing. And I did that for about a year and then I got sick. I got mono from not taking care of myself. I couldn’t stay awake long enough to drive home, my parents flew down and drove me back home to Rockford. I was there for a little bit and then my parents had a really bad motorcycle accident, so I stayed to take care of my baby sister and wound up falling in love with a guy I met in the diner where I would go to drink coffee after staying the evenings at the hospital with my parents.
“Because I had lived in Florida,” she continues, “I had no idea that this fascinating guy that I would have coffee with at 11:00 at night had just gotten off the air giving the weather report in Rockford. He had no idea that I was really young, and I had no idea that he was 37. I thought he was maybe 25, 27.” The marriage was brief but Trinka considers it a success because without him, she wouldn’t have her daughter Chelsea. While living in Fort Pierce, Florida, where she had come for her husband’s work for another TV station, Trinka obtained a hairdressing license so she would have a way to support herself and Chelsea. She moved to Boca Raton, which she thought was a good place to raise a child.
“So, I had a skill and a license to be able to make it on my own,” she recalls. “I did very well for several years as a hairdresser. I even did hair and makeup for funeral homes, for goodness’ sake. It was very meaningful. When I met a family that was absolutely bereft, they would often give me a photograph of what the person looked like when healthy. I would recreate, to the best of my ability, what the relative had looked like. That was rewarding to know that the families were satisfied.”
It was while working as a hairdresser in Coral Gables that Roxanna got a big break. One of her clients owned a civil engineering and land surveying company and noticed her efficiency. The client asked her if she would like to manage a toy drive the firm was chairing. “We really need some help at my office,” the client implored. “We’re going to help with the Latin Builders Association, Dade County Toy Drive. We’re trying to get 10,000 underprivileged children in Dade County to the Orange Bowl and put on a show and give them toys and so on for Christmas.” “I need help with this,” Roxanna thought. “‘Oh man, this is something I’d love to dig my teeth into.’ So, I did. I jumped in. The event was a big success and the client wound up hiring me full-time to ultimately run her business.”
Surprising absolutely no one, Trinka was a big success running her friend’s civil engineering firm.
Along the way, Roxanna and Chelsea needed a bigger place to live that would accommodate her babysitter and her daughter. She spotted an advertisement for a house for rent that looked just right, and when she went to inspect the property, the landlord was a handsome firefighter named Bill Trinka. “When he first opened the door, I took one look at those sparkly blue eyes and said, I am in so much trouble because I knew, I just knew,” Roxanna says. “He was 6’8”, brilliant blue eyes, the biggest smile you ever saw in your whole life. He just said, ‘Hi, come on in. Look around. If you like it, I’ll be outside working in the backyard.’ I sat down on the sofa and I kind of looked around from the sofa, but I didn’t go upstairs to look at the bedrooms upstairs. I didn’t look around that much at all. I’ve got my head in my hands thinking, I’m in trouble, because this guy is really, really cute. So, I just walked out the back door and I said, okay, I’ll take it.”
While working to get the house ready for Roxanna and Chelsea to move in, Bill gave her a ride on his motorcycle—he didn’t want to get paint on her car seats. “I sat on this motorcycle behind him and I’m just shaking my head. I said, all right God, I get the message. This is the guy. This is the guy. And within, I don’t know, three months—Bill says three weeks, but I say three months—it was a done deal.” But Bill, who had never been married before, had a two-year rule, and so Roxanna had to wait a bit longer than she had hoped to marry the good-looking firefighter. They married in 1986.
Surprising absolutely no one, Trinka was a big success running her friend’s civil engineering firm. Eventually, she realized it was time to strike out on her own, establishing Baseline Engineering & Land Surveying, Inc., in 1993. Trinka is not a civil engineer or land surveyor, but she hired the engineers and surveyors to do the work in residential, commercial and government construction projects. The firm prospered and Trinka became a Boca Raton community leader. She was instrumental in getting Florida Atlantic University’s College of Engineering Sciences to add Geomatics Engineering to its engineering curriculum. She served on the Executive Advisory Council for FAU’s College of Engineering Sciences, where Baseline was a major financial contributor. She retired in October 2021.
Notice, if you haven’t already, Roxanna Trinka is one of those people who has beena big success, personally and professionally, without a college degree. She proudly describes herself as a “trade school person,” and, when asked the secret of her success, replies, “Loving what you do. You gotta love what you do. And then I’ve got an incredible faith in God because He has brought me through breast cancer, He’s brought me through a pacemaker, He’s brought me through all kinds of various and sundry things that could have really been a bad, a bad, bad end. And I’m just grateful for every single day.”
After selling her engineering firm, Roxanna wondered what she was going to do now that she was retired. “I’m thinking, well I don’t play tennis, and I don’t play cards, and I don’t golf, and so what am I going do now?” It didn’t take long for her to get an answer. She was invited to a luncheon for conservative women, and one thing just led to another: it was that group that made Roxanna realize she wanted to get even more involved and that ultimately led her to IWN.
What is Roxanna Trinka’s number one issue? “Right now, our children,” she replies without hesitation. “Our children are being indoctrinated. You figure China is teaching quantum physics in elementary school. We’re teaching our kids to question their gender. That’s horrific. That’s horrific.
“We’re focusing way too much on feelings and not on reality, which is being self-sufficient. Can you grow a garden? Can you take care of an animal? Can you balance a checkbook? Can you add and subtract? These are the things that humans need to understand. Of course, be kind to each other. That’s fine. But do we have to have a whole curriculum about being kind, when we’re not teaching math and science and history?
You know, the song back in the ‘80s, ‘The Children Are Our Future,’ it’s true. And it doesn’t take a village to raise them, it takes a strong family culture. And if you don’t have that, it’s going to take the friends and close family. I don’t want some superintendent of County schools telling me how to raise my kid, and that’s what it’s coming to.”
With independent-minded women like Roxanna Trinka running with the IWN ball, however, the future is considerably brighter for us and the next generation.