Dr. Bob’s Farewell Address at the 1950 International Convention

Dr. Bob's Farewell Address at the 1950 International Convention

1950 Cleveland International – Dr. Bob S.:

“Let’s not louse it all up with Freudian complexes . . .”  

AA’s First International Convention in 1950 marked several of AA’s most significant historical moments. For example, this is when the AA Traditions were officially adopted. The theme of the convention was “We’ve Come of Age.” Dr. Bob, who had been suffering from cancer and spent most of his time in bed, was able to make a brief appearance and deliver what turned out to be his farewell address.

Dr. Bob begins speaking at 1:08.

Here’s a transcription: 

My good friends in AA and of AA.: 

I feel I would be very remiss if I didn’t take this opportunity to welcome you here to Cleveland, not only to this meeting but those that have already transpired. I hope very much that the presence of so many people, and the words that you have heard, will prove an inspiration to you — not only to you, but may you be able to impart that inspiration to  the boys and girls back home who were not fortunate enough to be able to come. In other words, we hope that your visit here has been both enjoyable and profitable. 

I get a big thrill out of looking over a vast sea of faces like this with a feeling that possibly some small thing that I did a number of years ago played an infinitely small part in making this meeting possible. I also get quite a thrill when I think that we all had the same problem. We all did the same things. We all get the same results in proportion to our zeal  and enthusiasm and stick-to-itiveness.

If you will pardon the injection of a personal note at this time, let me say that I have been in bed five of the last seven months and my strength hasn’t returned as I would like, so my remarks, of necessity, will be very brief. But there are two or three things that flashed into my mind on which it would be fitting to lay a little emphasis; one is the simplicity of our Program. Let’s not louse it all up with Freudian complexes and things that are interesting to the scientific mind, but have very little to do with our actual AA work. Our 12 Steps, when simmered down to the last, resolve themselves into the words love and service. We understand what love is and we understand what service is. So let’s bear those two things in mind. Let us also remember to guard that erring member, the tongue. And if we must use it, let’s use it with kindness and consideration and tolerance.

And one more thing: None of us would be here today if somebody hadn’t taken time to explain things to us, to give us a little pat on the back, to take us to a meeting or two, to have done numerous little kind and thoughtful acts in our behalf. So let us never get the degree of smug complacency so that we’re not willing to extend, or attempt to, that help which has been so beneficial to us, to our less fortunate brothers. Thank you very much.

A Tribute to Dr. Bob by Bill W:

“How we were spared from professionalism, wealth, and extensive property management; how we finally came up with the book Alcoholics Anonymous is a story by itself. But in this critical period it was Dr. Bob’s prudent counsel which so often restrained us from rash ventures that might have retarded us for years, perhaps ruined us for good. Nor can we ever forget the devotion of Dr. Bob and Jim S.(who passed away last summer) as they gathered stories for the AA Book, three-fifths of them coming from Akron alone. Dr. Bob’s special fortitude and wisdom were prime factors in that time so much characterized by doubt, and finally by grave decision.”

“How much we may rejoice that Anne and Dr. Bob lived to see the lamp lit at Akron carried into every corner of the earth; that they doubtless realized millions might someday pass under the ever-widening arch whose keystone they so gallantly helped carve. Yet, being so humble as they were, I’m sure they never quite guessed what a heritage they left us, nor how beautifully their appointed task has been completed. All they needed to do was finished. It was even reserved for Dr. Bob to see AA come of age as, for the last time, he spoke to 7000 of us at Cleveland, July, 1950.”

-Bill Wilson January 1951 Grapevine

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