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Alcoholics Anonymous history in your area
A Brief History of Alcoholics Anonymous
In Toledo, Ohio

Toledo, Ohio

by Roger C.
Area 55 Archivist/Historian


On October 17, 1940, at the River Road home of Ruth Tracy . Ruth, Duke Paddock, Charlie {CJ} Kirschner, Walter Cloud, Chet Morin, Bill White, Pete Bringman, Ed Broer, and Ernie Gerig {who was one of the first 100 members in A.A.}, met for this areas first A.A. meeting. Duke Paddock had the honor of leading .

In advance of this first meeting in Toledo, these eight men and one woman traveled to Akron to learn about Alcoholics Anonymous ….. A.A. is established here.

After only three months, on January 13, 1941, the Trainers as they were referred to back then, rented a space in the Kapp Building, and decided on the name, The Downtown Group. There were thirteen people present, and this meeting is mentioned in DR. BOB AND THE GOOD OLDTIMERS.

A few months after the Downtown Group started, the Saturday Evening Post article written by Jack Alexander appeared. Soon A.A. membership and recognition increased substantially all over the country, including Toledo. In a little over one year The Downtown Group grew to over 100 members. Weekly meetings were held on the third floor of the Kapp building with an average attendance of over 40 people. Soon it became apparent that the group had outgrown its meeting place, and the decision was made to split into smaller groups. A.A. in Toledo had begun to grow!

In the fall 1941 Bill Wilson came to Toledo for three days and spoke at the YMCA to a professional group of doctors & lawyers. He also visited and spoke at the Downtown Group.

Ernie Gerig, Eddie Evans and some A.A. friends started what became the “South End Group” and held their meetings in the shelter house at Highland Park. Still others held meetings in the shelter house in Ottawa Park, in a church downtown, in the YMCA, and in members homes.

In the fall of 1942, the Downtown Group, moved to a new meeting place at 243 Superior Street next to Toledo Trust. {It would later become the Toledo Port Authority.} Pete Bringman gathered the group in its spacious new quarters upstairs, a large meeting room with a parlor, which would prove to be home for the next six years.

Four of the original Downtown Group members stayed with the South End Group at Highland Park. Ernie Gerig, Eddie Evans, Dr. G., and Lillian Kuestrardt, {believed to be the first active female member of the group} stayed at 243 Superior St. Walter Cloud and some other members split off and formed the East Side Group at the Navarre Park Shelter House. Others left to form the West End Group, and some others led by Leo R., started a Sunday Night meeting on Dorr at Heston.

Soon people were coming from Maumee, Adrian, Blissfield, and other areas surrounding Toledo. They came, listened and learned, carried message home, and more groups began to form. The first group outside Toledo was formed in the fall of 1941 in Bowling Green, OH.

The first A.A. articles published by The Toledo Blade were written by Seymour Rothman and released February 18th, 19th, and 20th of 1941. The article written on the 20th of February, listed The Alcoholics Foundation address in New York for those interested to correspond. A group of Toledo alcoholics gave their personal phone numbers to the Toledo Blade for local contacts. The Blade promised to keep these phone numbers in confidence. The phones started ringing off the hook, and twelve step calls were made on dozens of drunks. The Downtown Group was the first group to answer calls for A.A. in this area, until the Central Office was opened in 1951.

A few of the early friends of A.A. in Toledo were Paul Block editor of the Toledo Blade, Rev. Cole Pastor of the Unitarian Church, Mr. Kapp a local businessman and Dr. Kaiser at the Toledo Hospital.

In 1945 the Downtown Group sponsored clients and assisted paying their bills in the first A.A. hospital ward at Maumee Valley Hospital. Members spent many hours carrying the message to new prospects in the ward.

Some Important Events In Our Area History

• In 1946 Dr. Bob is the guest speaker at the Commodore Perry, for the first celebration of Alcoholics Anonymous in this area.
• In 1945 the first Lima area group is formed.
• In 1946 The North End Group is established.
• In 1948 the first Monroe area group meets.
• On July 10th, 1949 our areas first Intergroup is held.
• In May of 1951 the first Central Office opened at the Richardson Bldg.
• In 1952 Area 55 General Assembly meets for first time.
• In 1955 groups start in Fostoria, Fremont and Port Clinton areas.
• In 1958 the 2nd annual state convention is held in Toledo.
• In 1965 there are over 65 meetings in the Toledo and surrounding areas, including Adrian, Defiance, Tiffin, Sandusky, Lima and Monroe.
• In 1975 there are over 150 meetings in our area.
• In 1983 Area 55 has its first annual Mini Conference.
• In 1995 there are over 300 meetings in our area.
• In February 2010 Area 55 held their 28th annual mini-conference.
• In August of 2010 Area 55 GSO hosted the 54th Ohio State Convention.

Our area has a long and rich history of Alcoholics Anonymous as it has served us all thru Gods grace.

This is just a brief summary of our area history as A.A. reaches out to the still suffering alcoholic. Many thanks to Bill Wilson, Dr. Bob Smith, the pioneers of our area, and to the many "friends" of Alcoholic Anonymous, who have helped us in our journey.

Yours in Service,
Roger C.
Area 55 Archivist/Historian

REV: 11/14/2010

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