Robert Holbrook Smith was born on August 8th 1879 in St. Johnsbury, Vermont. After graduation from Dartmouth College in 1902, he completed his medical training at Rush Medical School in Chicago. While attending college, he became a steady drinker; a situation that progressed until his recovery. In 1915, some 17 years after he had first met her, he married his high school sweetheart Anne Ripley and brought her to Akron. Even though he became a successful surgeon, he continued to struggle with alcoholism.
In 1935 Dr. Bob met Bill Wilson, a New York businessman and entrepreneur who was struggling with his own alcoholism. The two immediately became close friends, with Bill showing Dr. Bob how he, with spiritual help, was finally able to recover from the effects of alcoholism.
We celebrate Dr. Bobs last drink on June 10, 1935, and that is considered to be the founding date of Alcoholics Anonymous. In 1939 the book, Alcoholics Anonymous, written by Bill Wilson. Dr. Bob and other early members of our fellowship contributed stories that were included in the book that came to be known as Alcoholics Anonymous. Dr. Bob was called the “Prince of Twelfth Steppers” by Bill Wilson because he along with Sr Ignatia personally treated more than 5,000 alcoholics at St. Thomas Hospital where he visited the patience every day in addition to his regular practice – never charging for these services. It was in Dr. Bob’s home, together with his wife Anne, that some of the basic spiritual ideas essential to the A.A. way of life were developed.
Dr. Bob recalled, bottom 96- PG97 from DR bob and good old timers—said that many early ideas A.A.’s fundamental ideas came from the study of the Bible and that he personally did not write or have anything to do with the later writing of the 12 Steps. In Dr. Bob’s mind, the Steps in their deepest essence simply mean “love and service.”
Dr. Bob died on November 16, 1950 in Akron, Ohio after 15 years of uninterrupted sobriety. Ever a self-effacing and humble man, he might be astonished, and we feel very pleased, to realize that Alcoholics Anonymous has become a world-wide organization that continues to help so many helpless alcoholics begin and continue along the Road of Happy Destiny.