Alcoholics Anonymous & History of AA

 Last updated:
April 05, 2011

Alcoholics Anonymous History
Descriptive Titles Bill W. Gave to Two A.A. “Founders”

Dick B.
© 2011 Anonymous. All rights reserved.

Most thorough A.A. history accounts note that A.A. cofounder Bill Wilson recognized and appreciated the important service of others who were principals in the shaping of Alcoholics Anonymous ideas. In fact, the titles which Bill W. bestowed on those principals were not only descriptive; they highlighted the type of service rendered.

Comments about A.A. Cofounder Dr. Bob

A good source for information about Dr. Bob’s titles is the book by Bill’s long-time secretary and archivist: Nell Wing, Grateful to Have Been There: My 42 Years with Bill and Lois and the Evolution of Alcoholics Anonymous, 2d exp. and rev. ed. (Center City, MN: Hazelden, 1998).

“Fisher of Men”: Nell wrote, at page 89: “Dr. Bob, in Bill’s phrase, was the “fisher of men. . . .” In Matthew 4:18-19, Jesus called to Peter and Andrew who were casting a net into the sea and were fishers: “And he [Jesus] saith unto them, Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.”

“The Prince of all Twelfth-Steppers”: Nell wrote, at page 90: “Dr. Bob became, as Bill described him, ‘the prince of the Twelfth Steppers’—a title for which he was well qualified, growing out of his natural instinct as a doctor for helping people, combined with his intense desire as an alcoholic to administer to his fellow sufferers.” Bill Wilson himself said:

It had been decided that Bob would attend mostly to the questions of hospitalization and the development of our Twelfth Step work. Between 1940 and 1950, in the company of that marvelous nun, Sister Ignatia, he had treated 5,000 drunks at St. Thomas Hospital in Akron. His spiritual example was a powerful influence, and he never charged a cent for his medical care. So Dr. Bob became the prince of all twelfth-steppers. Perhaps nobody will ever do such a job again.” [The Co-Founders of Alcoholics Anonymous (NY: Alcoholics Anonymous World Services, Inc., 1972, 1975), page 34.]

“The Rock Upon Which A.A. Was Founded”: Nell wrote, at page 90: “Bill often described Bob as ‘the rock upon which A.A. was founded.’”

Comments about Dr. Bob’s Wife, Anne Ripley Smith

“One of the Founders of Alcoholics Anonymous” and the “Mother of A.A.: Bill W. wrote: “Anne was the wife of Dr. Bob, co-founder of Alcoholics Anonymous. She was, quite literally, the mother of our first group, Akron Number One. . . . In the full sense of the word, she was one of the founders of Alcoholics Anonymous” [The Language of the Heart: Bill W.’s Grapevine Writings (NY: The A.A. Grapevine, Inc., 1998), 353-54.] And both of Dr. Bob’s children stated quite clearly that “Bill W. called her the ‘Mother of A.A.’” [Children of the Healer: The Story of Dr. Bob’s Kids By Bob Smith and Sue Smith Windows as Told to P. Christine Brewer (Center City, MN: Hazelden, 1992), 29, 41, 132.];

Gloria Deo


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