A.A. and Its Cofounder Dr. Bob
It’s Time to Remember Again that A.A. Had Two Founders
Dr. Bob of A.A. – The Prince of All Twelfth-steppers: the title given him by A.A. cofounder Bill W.
Dick B., Copyright 2012 Anonymous. All rights reserved.
Founders Day In Akron is Around the Corner in 2012
Thousands of AAs and others will soon gather in Akron, Ohio, to celebrate the founding there of Alcoholics Anonymous in June of 1935. Hundreds of motorcycle riders will pound down the streets on their way to the graveside of A.A. cofounder Dr. Robert Holbrook Smith (Dr. Bob) and his wife, Anne Ripley Smith (rightly called the “Mother of A.A.” by cofounder Bill Wilson.)
Hordes will pour into Dr. Bob’s Home at 855 Ardmore Avenue—“where it all began.” (The Akron Genesis of Alcoholics Anolnymous.) They will see where Bill and Bob gathered together in the summer of 1935 to talk about a proposed recovery program until the wee hours of each morning. They will see where Dr. Bob got sober after previously turning to God in prayer for deliverance. They will see where Anne Smith read from her chair in the corner of the living room each morning. She read the Bible to Dr. Bob and Bill each day. And she continued for years thereafter to gather AAs and their families at the Smith home for morning Quiet Time where she shared from her journal (Anne Smith’s Journal 1933-1939). Where she led the group each day in prayer, Quiet Time, and Bible study. And where the AAs and their families often used devotionals like the Upper Room, The Runner’s Bible, and My Utmost for His Highest.
Documented history confirms that the Book of James was the favorite book in Akron A.A. Christian Fellowship for Bible study. So much so, that the Akron AAs had been assured their Society and its book would be called “The James Club.” (The James Club and the Original A.A. Program’s Absolute Essentials). A promise that gave way to the name Alcoholics Anonymous.
Visitors to Dr. Bob’s Home will also see about half of the immense library of books that Dr. Bob owned, read, studied, and circulated. That portion was donated to Dr. Bob’s Home by his son, Robert R. Smith (Dr. Bob and His Library). It was foundational in the extensive reading by the A.A. pioneers
Persistent admirers will also take in other memorable locations—so very important to those who perceive the importance of the old school Akron program to the founding, growth, and success of present-day A.A. They will drive past the T. Henry Williams Home on Palisades Drive—where the “regular” original Wednesday night meetings were held. They will drive to and can now enter the Gate Lodge located at the foot of the huge Seiberling Estate grounds. For it is there that Henrietta Buckler Seiberling lived with her three children when she introduced Bill Wilson and Dr. Bob to each other, after which occurred a six hour discussion that sealed the friendship and launched the Society. (Henrietta B. Seiberling: Ohio’s Lady with a Cause.) They may visit the gravesite. They may visit what used to be St. Thomas Hospital where, in the 1940’s, Dr. Bob and Sister Ignatia helped 5000 drunks recover. (Sister Ignatia: Angel of Alcoholics Anonymous). And they make take in the Akron AA Intergroup office where still more important memorabilia and books can be seen.
All this temporal focus on Akron once a year while there is an incessant outpouring of autobiographies, writings, and comments by Bill W.; an incessant outpouring of films, TV specials, and biographies of Bill Wilson; and an almost universal A.A. recognition of the name Bill W.—while many do not know who Dr. Bob is, or what role he played in the founding of A.A.
Now, there is a great deal of information available which can make the Dr. Bob picture a live one. And we will discuss this in the next article.