June 10, 2015

Today marks 80 years since Alcoholics Anonymous Co-Founder, Dr. Bob, took his last drink. It is the day that AA was named Founder’s day, the day that AA had its start. Six months prior to Dr. Bob’s last drink, a stockbroker in New York was admitted to Towns Hospital. This stockbroker was Bill W. who had been admitted to the hospital for the very last time. During his hospital stay, Bill had a spiritual experience that released him from his obsession to drink. His sudden experience was followed by the overwhelming presence of God. As a result of his experience in the hospital, Bill was inspired to share his experience with other alcoholics to help them achieve sobriety. Bill was unsuccessful for the next six months in getting anyone sober.

In May of 1935, Bill was on a business trip to Akron, Ohio where that all changed. Bill was left in a position of danger to taking a drink after his business deal fell apart. In order to refrain from drinking, he knew that he needed to help another alcoholic. As he learned over the previous six months that however unsuccessful he was in getting anyone else sober, he was staying sober as result of caring for and helping other alcoholics. It was there in Akron where Bill was put into contact with Dr. Bob. The first time they met, they had a lengthy conversation where Bill was able to share with Bob his previous struggles with alcohol, his spiritual experience, and how he maintains his sobriety. Dr. Bob was enlightened after this meeting but struggled to stay sober for several weeks before putting down the drink for good on June 10, 1935 to maintain sobriety until his death in 1950.

After the two men first met, Bill decided to stay in Akron with Dr. Bob for several months to continue helping other alcoholics achieve sobriety before returning home. Over the following years, the start they made in Akron developed into groups forming in several cities in the Northeast. In 1939, the book Alcoholics Anonymous (The Big Book) was published and the growing fellowship of sober alcoholics were given a name. With Bill and Bob’s start 80 years ago, a fellowship that continues to grow, and the way of life outlined in the Big Book has led to a worldwide program that keeps changing lives one day at a time. 

Bill Wilson at Founders Day in Akron, OH 1954