Alcoholics Anonymous & History of AA

 Last updated:
July 08, 2009

Alcoholics Anonymous History

 A.A. Tributes by Dick B.  

Tribute to Dale Morfitt

Dale Morfitt has left us. Some would say he’s gone home. Some would say he’s now leading the great meeting in the sky. Some would say he is in heaven. I prefer to say what the Word of God—which Dale treasured—says: He is now asleep in Jesus and awaiting the return of his Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. Whatever you may say, Dale was a fervent and faithful servant of the Lord and tuned to his duties of love, service, and witnessing as a son of our Heavenly Father. And he had a wonderful part in my own A.A. fellowship life (finish the article).

Tribute to Ozzie Lepper

Ozzie Lepper passed on November 28th after his difficult bout with cancer. His family were at his side. And he is at rest. His life is to be celebrated as a blessing to thousands.

There will be letters and communications aplenty by those who knew him and those who knew of his immense service to Almighty God and His son Jesus Christ. And, of course, by those who knew of his dedication to the Fellowship of Alcoholics Anonymous. My words will be few though I knew him as friend, as a supporter, as a strong like-minded believer, and as a great enthusiast for the quest for the history of Alcoholics Anonymous and the preservation and display of its evidences in the town of Bill Wilson’s birth—East Dorset, Vermont. That little village glows because of Ozzie’s extraordinary vision and work as he labored alongside his beloved wife Bonnie (finish the article).

The Last of the Tribe:

A Tribute to Bob Smith--Son of Our Cofounder Dr. Bob

Bob Smith is dead. As his lovely wife Mona has written, thousands will be writing condolences and mourning the loss of this great warrior—“The Amazing Bob,” as Mona called him in her reports of his recent illness and hospitalization.

Tribute to Frank M.

A.A.'s former archivist, Frank M., helped to start Dick B. on his eleven-year quest for the biblical roots of Alcoholics Anonymous. 

Some Comments about the Passing of A.A.'s Legendary Geraldine D.

. . . I had had no contact with the actual women AAs of the early days. Then a grateful mother of a recovered AA asked me to write a book about Mrs. Geraldine O. Delaney. I went to Little Hill-Alina Lodge at Blairstown, New Jersey, and was given the run of the place. Mrs. Delaney had retired as founder and CEO emeritus, but she was very much present. I interviewed her in her home and at the Lodge. And I discovered she was something special. . . .

Some Comments about the Passing of Dr. Bob's Daughter-in-law, Betty

Betty was gracious, humorous, and serious. Once she became acquainted with my quest for information on early A.A., she gave me every support I could ask for. So did Bob. Each time I would call by phone, both of them would get on the line and pour out love, friendship, and information. The same was true of their correspondence with me--almost always as a team....

Grace Snyder, "That Amazing Grace," Has Gone, but . . .

She knew for certain where she was going. She knew for certain whom she would join. And, with emphatic zeal, she spent a great part of her life endeavoring to make the same hope available to anyone she met. She wanted her kids, as she called them, to become God's kids. And they did, by the hundreds--perhaps by the thousands.

How many of us will remember her kneeling in a corner with some beleaguered newcomer, showering that person with love and leading that person to Jesus Christ as their personal Lord and Savior. She did it unashamedly and boldly. She did it because she knew it was God's absolute will for all to be saved and to come unto a full and accurate knowledge of the truth in His Word. She studied that Word. She believed it. And she spoke it. She was unquestionably a woman of God. That Amazing Grace. . . .

An Early Tribute to Dr. Bob's Wife, Anne Ripley Smith

Recently, the author learned that Dorothy S.M. had been asked to write a tribute to Anne Ripley Smith for the Grapevine in 1952. This she did, and her tribute appeared in Volume 9, Number 6. However, the article was much edited and shortened; and Dorothy's daughter-in-law made available to the author the original tribute, just as it was first written, penciled corrections and all. It is a wonderful piece of history.

Tribute to Dennis Wayne Cassidy
(May 11, 1940–September 29, 2007)

Dennis Cassidy was a long-time friend, colleague, and supporter of mine. I first met him at the home of Sue Smith Windows, daughter of Dr. Bob. He was present when I first discovered the library of important books belonging to Dr. Bob that Sue had stored in her attic. It turns out that Dennis was on the outreach group for Dr. Bob’s Home in Akron. Sue always reserved a place for him at the Board meetings that were held there, and he visited her frequently. Dennis was a stalwart supporter of Dr. Bob’s role as Co-founder of Alcoholics Anonymous.

Dennis was also a solid member of Alcoholics Anonymous with long term sobriety. He was very active in the fellowship. More important to me, he was a vital link in the A.A. history picture. Through his direct connection with some of the early A.A. leadership, Dennis acquired a large collection of books, manuscripts, tapes, and pictures pertaining to A.A.’s roots. And many were shared with me: (1) All of Bill Wilson’s public talks were recorded and wound up catalogued and placed in Dennis’ hands. (2) Dennis had collected many of the books pertaining to the East Coast roots of A.A.—Oxford Group books, Shoemaker books, and copies of books Dr. Bob had owned, studied, and circulated among AAs. (3) Dennis also had a good many other historical treasures which will be of great importance to the recovery scene.

Here are a few of the history projects on which we worked together: (1) He and I attended the first conference of A.A. historians which Charlie B. convened in West Virginia. (2) We met in his home in Connecticut to review all of the Clarence Snyder books and papers that Mitch K. had taken from Clarence’s widow. (3) We visited Hartford Seminary and obtained a large number of historical documents pertaining to Frank Buchman, the Oxford Group, and Rev. Sam Shoemaker. (4) Dennis made special efforts to obtain and send to me many of the books written by Shoemaker. (5) Ray G. (archivist at Dr. Bob’s Home), Ray’s wife, Sue Smith Windows, Dennis, and my son Ken were together at the Rule 62 Conference where Sue, Dennis, and I spoke on the history of A.A. As always, Ray was displaying his large collection of materials from the Dr. Bob’s Home Archives. (6) Dennis attended and stayed with me at the conference of historians that Bill Pittman convened at Hazelden and then at a Minneapolis Convention history segment. (7) Dennis came to the Wilson House to hear me speak at one of the annual Heritage Seminars I was doing there each year. You will find the collection that he made available detailed in my title Making Known the Biblical Roots of Alcoholics Anonymous (www.dickb.makingknown.shtml).

Dennis was a kind and dedicated man. He graciously entertained me in his Connecticut home. He worked tirelessly on A.A. and on A.A. history projects for the many years I knew him. He had a passion for seeing A.A. History accurately and fully set before the entire fellowship and supported my 18 years of efforts to see this happen. He will be sorely missed—as a friend, as a fellow AA, as and A.A. historian, and as one who knew the Creator’s role in our program and in his own life.

Dick B., October, 2007, Kihei, Maui, Hawaii.

Tribute to Bill Pittman

I just received word from several friends that Bill Pittman had died. And some may choose to write of him as a friend, author, publisher, and dedicated AA. I would prefer to say a few words about my relationship with him as a colleague in the quest for A.A. history.

Old Timer Earl Husband of Oklahoma heard of our Day in Marin A.A. History Conference in Mill Valley, California some 15 years ago. We got acquainted at the Seattle Convention, and Earl began sending me history books. When I sent him my first title—Dr. Bob’s Library—and told him I was going on a search for history and would write other books, he suggested I send my book to Bill Pittman “who will publish it.”

So I did; and before I knew it, Bill and his Glen Abbey Books had become the publisher of several of my books. He expressed great interest in the Akron A.A. scene and mentioned several AAs who had a similar bent. Out of this came The Akron Genesis of Alcoholics Anonymous, which he published. About the same time, Bill had gotten me acquainted with Charlie Bishop and his Bishop of Books business. Charlie published my very first book, and also convened the first conference of historians in West Virginia. Earl, Bill Pittman, Mitch K., Charlie Bishop, Frank Mauser, yours truly, and several other history seekers attended.  Soon Bill convened a conference of historians at Hazelden; and it was widely attended. Dr. Bob’s daughter, Gail La Croix, Ray Grumney, Ernie Kurtz, Frank Mauser, Mel Barger, Mary Darrah, Dennis Cassidy, yours truly, and many others attended.

Bill closed down his publishing work in Seattle and went to Hazelden. By then, we had collaborated on a number of historical efforts. One was the book called Courage to Change about Sam Shoemaker and the Twelve Steps—first published by Baker Book House, and then by Hazelden. Next, Bill asked me to write a chapter in Women Pioneers—a book I had suggested several years back; and I completed the Henrietta Seiberling chapter for the Hazelden book.

As time went on, Bill kept me posted on other Hazelden history ventures—particularly the autobiography of Bill W. and the Dale Mitchel book on Silkworth. And I’ve used them frequently. In fact, I’m quoted in the Silkworth book. Hazelden soon stocked my titles.

Toward the end of our relationship, I began to plan for the gift of all my history collections to various places where they could be seen, studied, copied, and be accessible. It became necessary to have these collections appraised for the potential donors. And Bill was the right man. He was Director of Historical Information at Hazelden, had appraised a number of collections, and belonged to several scholarly societies. Without his help, the donations would not have been made; and the result is that almost all are now located in the Griffith Library at the Wilson House foundation in East Dorset, Vermont; St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Akron—Dr. Bob’s last church; and Calvary Episcopal Church in Pittsburgh—Sam Shoemaker’s last church.

If it hadn’t been for Bill Pittman’s steadfast interest in publishing accurate early A.A. history, I have my doubts that the plethora of subsequent publications by Bishop, Kurtz, Klein, Darrah, Pittman himself, Barger, Hartigan, Cheever, Paton, Mitchel, and White, including yours truly, would have put A.A. history back in the public eye for purposes of learning our history and how it could contribute to recovery today—if accurately, completely, and honestly written.

Dick B.
P.O. Box 837
Kihei, Hawaii
Ph/fax: 808-874-4876

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