Dr. Robert Holbrook Smith
Born in St. Johnsbury, Vermont on August 8th 1879, an “only child”
Heavy drinking student – famed for his ‘open throat’- being able to drink a bottle of beer without moving any muscles in his throat! Missed a final exam due to the shakes – had to repeat two terms
Specialised in rectal surgery at St. Thomas’s hospital, Akron, Ohio
Suffered terribly from alcoholism until he was 56
Co-founder of Alcoholics Anonymous
- Accomplished physician –drank alcoholically for over 30 years
- Agreed to meet Bill for 15 minutes to please his wife – it was Mothers’ Day
- Sceptical about Bill’s reasons for visiting – ‘another crackpot attempt to sober me up’
Bill W. meets Dr. Bob
Dr. Bob takes a liking to Bill – they’re both tall & lean people originating from Vermont.
Bill explains that he hasn’t visited Dr. Bob to help him – he has come for his own benefit. He has to talk to another alcoholic to stay sober.
The 15 minute meeting lasts 5 hours – Bill moves in and stays on for several months.
Dr. Bob goes to a medical convention in Atlantic City and drinks again.
Dr. Bob’s wife Anne and Bill are worried – they wait for hours for Dr. Bob’s return.
Dr. Bob returns home drunk and gets off the train at the wrong stop.
He has to sober up as he’s performing surgery the next day.
Bill gives Dr. Bob a bottle of beer to calm his nerves. This was the last drink that Dr. Bob ever took.
He performs the surgery and then tours Akron and makes amends to as many of his acquaintances as possible.
Dr. Bob’s last drink was on June 10th, 1935 – the official birthday of Alcoholics Anonymous. AA’s birthday signifies nothing more than two sober drunks helping each other. This simple formula has been working ever since – right across the world.
Bill W. had the desire to drink removed from him instantly. Dr. Bob struggled with urges to drink for two years but never gave in to them. This also reflects the differences experienced
in recovery from alcoholism in the AA fellowship today.
Dr. Bob and Anne Smith’s home – 855 Ardmore Avenue, Akron, Ohio
Bill stays with Dr. Bob and his wife Anne for 3 months
They have many things in common and are convinced that they can carry a message to suffering alcoholics
Dr. Bob practiced at St. Thomas’s Hospital in Akron. Staff at the hospital were impressed by Dr. Bob’s new-found sobriety.