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"A.A. Taught Him to Handle Sobriety"
554 3rd edition, p. 553 4th edition.)
Lost Nearly All
willing, we may never again have to deal with
drinking, but we have to deal with sobriety
joined A.A. in New York City in 1961, probably
never dreaming one day he would be the manager
of A.A.'s General Service Office.
was born in Houston, Texas, but raised in Kansas,
the only child of loving parents. His parents
drank only socially, and his father gave him his
first drink - a tiny glass of sherry to celebrate
the New York - when he was thirteen. He immediately
saw the effect it had on him and prayed he wouldn't
drink any more. But in college he began to drink
at fraternity parties and beer busts.
family moved frequently and Bob found himself
in a different school every year until high school,
where he was always the new kid who had to prove
himself. He retreated into a fantasy world. He
became the classic over-achiever and sold his
first article to a national magazine while still
graduation from college he moved to New York to
pursue a writing career and landed a good job.
He was soon regarded as a "boy wonder." But by
age twenty-two he was a daily drinker.
then had difficulty in every aspect of his life.
His service in the Navy was marred when he was
given a "Captain's Mast," i.e., discipline for
trouble he got into while drinking. His marriage
suffered, his values became distorted, and by
forty his health was severely damaged.
the doctor told him he would have to stop drinking
he did, for ten months, with no apparent difficulty,
but he did not enjoy life without drinking, and
soon he was drinking again and his physical condition
developed cirrhosis of the liver, had frequent
blackouts, severe nosebleeds, angry bruises which
appeared mysteriously all over his body. Despite
three episodes of losing large quantities of blood
by vomiting and from his rectum, he drank again.
doctor finally gave up on him and referred him
to a psychiatrist in the same suite of offices.
"He happened to be, by the grace of God," Bob
wrote, "Dr. Harry Tiebout, the psychiatrist who
probably knew more about alcoholism than any other
in the world." At that time Dr. Tiebout was serving
as a nonalcoholic trustee on the General Service
Tiebout sent him to High Watch to dry out. There
he read the Big Book and began his slow road back
to health and sanity.
Bob had been in A.A. only a short time, an oldtimer
told him that A.A. does not teach us how to handle
our drinking, but it teaches us how to handle
only did his health recover, so did his marriage,
his relationship with his children, his performance
on his job.
these things A.A. gave him, but most of all it
taught him how to handle sobriety, how to relate
to people, how to deal with disappointments and
problems. He learned that "the name of the game
is not so much to stop drinking as to stay sober."
willing, we members of Alcoholics Anonymous may
never again have to deal with drinking, but we
have to deal with sobriety every day. How do we
do it? By learning - through practicing the Twelve
Steps and through sharing at meetings - how to
cope with the problems that we looked to booze
to solve, back in our drinking days."
has served A.A. in many ways. He worked for G.S.O.
for twelve and a half years. He was a director
and trustee of the General Service Board for six
years and office general manager for a decade.
Upon retirement from G.S.O. in 1986, he took on
the task for G.S.O. of writing an update of A.A.'s
history covering the period from the publication
of "Alcoholics Anonymous Comes to Age," through
its fiftieth year. Unfortunately, this manuscript
was never published.
the 1986 General Service Conference, Bob gave
what the 1986 Final Report called "a powerful
and inspiring closing talk" titled "Our greatest
said: "If you were to ask me what is the greatest
danger facing A.A. today, I would have to answer
the growing rigidity - the increasing demand for
absolute answers to nit-picking questions; pressure
for G.S.O. to 'enforce' our Traditions, screening
alcoholics at closed meetings, prohibiting non-Conference
approved literature, i.e., 'banning books,' laying
more and more rules on groups and members. And
in this trend toward rigidity, we are drifting
farther and farther away from our co-founders.
Bill, in particular, must be spinning in his grave,
for he was perhaps the most permissive person
I ever met. One of his favorite sayings was 'Every
group has the right to be wrong.'"
continues to give his service to A.A. in many
ways. At the International Convention in Minneapolis
in 2000, he appeared to be handling many jobs.
He filled in to lead at least one of the small
meetings, "Pioneers in A.A." The program does
not list him as the Moderator. He was probably
filling in for someone else at the last minute.
for some of the information about Bob is "Not
God, a History of Alcoholics Anonymous" by Ernest
Kurtz, expanded edition, Hazelden, 1991.)