Lynn Spruill is not only the first woman mayor of Addison, she is also the first woman in history to land an airplane on an aircraft carrier. Spruill, now thirty-seven, entered the Navy in 1974 in the first class of female Navy pilots, and in 1979 she finally got the chance to land her twin-engine plane on a flat-top, the USS Independence. "I was really geared up for it," Spruill says of her feat. The response to this bit of aviation history was anticli-mactic, however. "The Navy took some film," she says. "And I got off and shook hands with the captain. That’s about all."
After the Navy, Spruill became a corporate pilot for the Atlantic Richfield Company. She now flies for Delta, but the civilian life didn’t quite fulfill her. "The Navy gave me a strong sense of purpose," she says. "I was searching for something to give me that same feeling." She found it in politics when she was appointed to the Addison Planning and Zoning Commission in 1983.
And then she was thrust up the ladder by an act that would be repeated, eerily, when she became mayor: suicide. In 1985 Dr. John Allen, then a member of the Addison Town Council, committed suicide, and Spruill was appointed to fill his position. Three years later, longtime Mayor Jerry Redding committed suicide amid the heat of an investigation into possible misuse of town funds. Again, Spruill was appointed to fill out a dead man’s term.
"You either take advantage of the situation or you pass it off," Spruill says. "When Jerry killed himself, I was mayor pro tern, and I felt confident I could do the job. One thing I like to do is to challenge myself." But the political times were rough. Ad-dison’s tax base was eroding, and the town’s image was tarnished by the investigation, which is still dragging through the courts. Spruill had to become the city’s healer. "The biggest role she’s played," says Town Council member Jim Duffy, "is in the public leadership role. She’s always visible and positive and upbeat."
While Addison’s wounds are healing, Spruill is moving ahead to the more mundane issues of running a city, like schools. Addison school children go to school in the DISD and all locations are south of LBJ Freeway. A neighborhood school wouldn’t be a first for her town, but she’ll take it. -J.P.