Lynn Wilson isn’t your typical supporter of Donald Trump.
Her husband, retired cargo airline owner Bill Spohrer, who grew up in the Depression in the deep red state of Oklahoma, and then served in the military and with the intelligence services, better fits the Republican mold.
But Wilson grew up in South Florida, started an interior design company that had her rubbing elbows with an eclectic mix of society sophisticates, and now in semi-retirement enjoys her days painting and overseeing an art gallery in downtown Apalachicola.
And so it was as part of her design work two decades ago that she crossed paths with Trump, doing at assignment at Mar-A-Lago, his palatial estate in Palm Beach. She helped him complete some office space and a spa, and selecting artwork, and she grew to like him.
“He was totally normal with me, really nice, really easy going,” said Wilson, noting that he dealt directly with her, foregoing a middle man that is often the case with wealthy executives.
At the time his then-wife Marla Maples was nursing daughter Tiffany, and Trump showed himself to be “a real family guy” around them, and his daughter Ivanka, and two sons from a first marriage.
Not long after, Wilson and Spohrer, who travel in South Florida’s elite society, shared the spotlight with Trump at a celebrity cook-off in Miami Beach, where Spohrer, dressed as Indiana Jones, and Wilson, as an Incan princess, whipped up a Peruvian chicken stew, aji di gallina.
With the exception of Spohrer’s deep support for former President George H.W. Bush, a friendship that once led to a White House visit for Spohrer and his wife, Wilson’s political involvements have been few and far between. In fact, her biggest political activism these days is as a member of the city’s non-partisan planning and zoning board.
But last month, she decided to attend Trump’s inauguration, part of an adventure that began with a four-day painting trip to the Florida Keys, where she worked alongside, and mingled and schmoozed, with women who were decidedly on the left side of the political spectrum, scarcely enamored of the president-elect.
From there she drove to the Miami airport, where she flew to Washington, to stay with family in Alexandria, including a 14-year-old grandson and a 12-year-old granddaughter.
“Trump is a like a carrot,” her granddaughter said not long after their reunion the night before the Jan. 20 inauguration. “They’re both orange and they both have no brain.”
Trump is known to elicit such feelings, so the comments by her beloved grandchild, didn’t surprise Wilson, but they did get her thinking.
She said as a woman who has traveled throughout the world, and worked alongside men who have exhibited less than honorable and respectful treatment of the women in their presence, she sees clearly the contrast between the blessings of America and the shortcomings of much of the rest of the world.
“Nobody’s going to ruin your party, girls,” she said. “I’m proud of our country, where we’ve had a distinguished black president and a beautiful wife, and two wonderful children. We can say anything we want here.“
The following morning, Wilson took a cab in to the Marriott in downtown Washington, a slow trudge due to a lot of closed bridges and roads, where she met a client of hers, Orlando’s David Segal, and his family and friends.
From there they walked the distance to the Capitol, where she had a decent, standing-room view of the swearing-in, while Segal as able to sit in the more exclusive section.
Wilson is careful not to venture too far into her political views, although she is adamantly in support of Trump’s position on the Middle East and Israel, and believes that unbridled immigration policies pose a long-term threat to America.
“I voted for the policies, for certain of his tenets, but I didn’t like some of the things the guy said,” she said.
Wilson said she saw “a lot of normal people” that day in Washington, and heard “lots of comments, lots of cheering, and lots of booing.”
Following the ceremony, Wilson went to two luncheon parties, a lavish affair at the Morgan Stanley offices hosted by former Republican Governor Charlie Crist, who was just elected as a Democrat to Congress, and a more modest one at 701 Restaurant hosted by Gov. Rick Scott. From there they could watch the inaugural parade from the roof.
She had brought the proper attire to attend the balls she was invited to that evening, but tired from the long day, and without her husband at her side, she decided to forego the evening activities, and the next day flew back to Miami, and then drove home.
She said she enjoyed herself, and learned much about the divisions that exist in this country.
“I’m not a dyed-in-the-wool Republican,” she said. “I am an accomplished independent woman. Isn’t that the Democratic woman’s ideal?”