& History of AA
July 08, 2009
Alcoholics Anonymous History
A.A. Tributes by Dick B.
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
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
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
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.
A.A.'s former archivist, Frank M., helped to start Dick B. on
eleven-year quest for the biblical roots of Alcoholics Anonymous.
. . . 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. . . .
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
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. . . .
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.
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
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
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
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.