Clarence Snyder, founder of Alcoholics Anonymous in Cleveland, OH. achieved sobriety on February 11, 1938.
Clarence, a native of Cleveland, at 34 years old was well into the depths of his alcoholism. He fell on hard times with no more support from family or friends. He was given a last chance with a bus ticket to go from Cleveland down to Akron to meet Dr. Bob. Their first meeting didn’t result in his immediate sobriety but after three more days of drinking, he was desperate and sought out help again. He was checked into St. Thomas Hospital in Akron. He was visited in the hospital everyday by the 18 members that have acheived sobriety to that point. They would come in to visit and share their stories with him. His last day in the hospital, Dr. Bob came in to visit him. Dr. Bob started Clarence on the process of the steps that were being used at the time (6 tenets of the Oxford Group). Dr. Bob brought him to his first meeting of the Oxford Group that night. He surrendered and bought into the recovery program.
Clarence would make the drive from Cleveland to Akron atleast once a week for the next year and a half to attend the meetings. Clarence was able to witness the friction between the alcoholics and non-alcoholics in the Oxford Group. In 1939, amid this friction, he formed a new group called ‘Alcoholics Anonymous’. He often claimed to have started the first meeting using the name Alcoholics Anonymous.
Clarence became an enthusiastic 12th stepper, literally dragging prospects for AA off bar stools. He was intrumental in the growth of Alcoholics Anonymous from 1939-1941. The members in Cleveland became very missionary-minded. Clarence was seeking ways to raise the membership in AA. In the Fall of 1941, he snuck a non-alcoholic newspaper reporter (Elrick B. Davis) into meetings for the intention of having articles about AA published in the Cleveland Plain Dealer. These articles were released, resulting in over a thousand inquiries.
In the 1960’s, Clarence moved from Cleveland to Florida. He often traveled around the country speaking at AA meetings and conventions. He passed away on March 22, 1984 with 46 years of sobriety.