A PROPHET IN HIS OWN TOWN
Clarence's Life After the 1960's
A prophet is not without honor, save in his
own country (Matthew 13:57)
Clarence left Ohio to move to Florida, he continued to be active
in the fellowship of Alcoholics Anonymous. He also continued
on with "earning a living."
worked at several different positions, including many sales
jobs, something to which he seemed best suited. He settled down
with his wife, Selma (Kitterer), in St. Petersburg and found
a home group.
seemed to be the type of person you either loved or hated. There
appeared to be no real middle ground. As the author saw it,
Clarence was at times egotistical, and yet humble in his own
way. He continued with the hard-line A.A. his sponsor had taught
him. Dr. Bob did not believe in half measures. Neither did Clarence.
his later years, Clarence traveled around the country, speaking
and carrying the message of a changed life to those who wanted
to hear it. Local meetings had a difficult time with Clarence.
For the most part they didn't seem to want to hear his particular
brand of A.A. The saying that a prophet in his own town is without
honor fit Clarence well.
were those too, with whom Clarence found favor. These were usually
people who found Clarence's interpretation of what A.A. should
be like to be in their best interest. These, at first, were
few. Their numbers grew.
became involved with the Masons in Florida. Like Dr. Bob, Clarence
was a 32° Mason. He became involved in speaking at civic and
other organizations about A.A.
became involved in church affairs; and he believed he tried
to practice and live the principles of the A.A. program as best
he could. He continued to sponsor numerous people, and there
are many today in St. Petersburg who were sponsored by Clarence.
Most still enjoy continuous sobriety.
and Selma were eventually divorced. The author found that Clarence
was reluctant to speak about any of his marriages. So details
remain something of a mystery. After the divorce, Clarence continued
on with his A.A. work as an avocation. He never required any
one to pay for his speaking engagements. However, he did not
turn down any "honorariums" offered that were paid; and he did
request that those who invited him to speak outside of Florida
pay for his travel, meals, and lodging.
spoke throughout the United States, Canada and a few foreign
countries. He constantly got into trouble with his statements
concerning the founding of A.A. and his claim that he was the
one who had founded the first A.A. meeting. Whatever the accuracy
of his claim as a founder, there is ample evidence that the
meeting he started in Cleveland, at 2345 Stillman Road, Cleveland
Heights, was the first meeting to be called Alcoholics Anonymous.
As we stated, Nell Wing (Bill's secretary) acknowledged to the
author that Clarence was the first person to use the initials
"A.A." in referring to Alcoholics Anonymous.
were many firsts in A.A. which could be directly attributed
to Clarence Snyder. But his method of making them known became
a sore point with many. Clarence did not believe in the Tradition
of Anonymity. He felt he came into A.A. before there were any
traditions and that for the most part they didn't apply to him.
He used his first and last name everywhere he went. He granted
television, radio and newspaper interviews. He allowed his face
to be photographed in connection with A.A. - a violation of
Bill Wilson died in 1971, Clarence offered his services to the
New York office to help in any way he could. But that office
politely declined the offer. Clarence said, looking back on
that refusal, that he probably expected it.
in 1971, Clarence was introduced to Grace Snipes Moore. Grace
was an alcoholic who was attending meetings. Clarence said he
was introduced to Grace as the oldest living member of A.A.,
"the oldest man in the world."
two began seeing each other and were married that same year.
Grace and Clarence moved to Casselberry, Florida, where they
purchased a house at 142 Lake Triplett Drive South. They established
their home there and began traveling around the country together
was openly theistic, and Clarence began to express similar ideas.
Though Clarence had always believed in God and did not shrink
from expressing his belief, he began more open confession of
his religious beliefs. He became more involved in church matters
and spoke more openly about Jesus at meetings and at retreats.
an elder statesman in A.A., and as the member with the longest
period of continuous sobriety of any person living at that time,
Clarence was respected by many. People flocked to his home to
be "taken through their steps" by Clarence. They came from all
over the country. There were people who had many years of abstinence,
but who wanted sobriety. They learned that sobriety had little
to do with not drinking but had a lot to do with living. Clarence
liked to use the term "sodriety" when referring to the
state by these people before they underwent a life change.
were Roman Catholic priests, business executives, housewives,
and many other folks. All these who sought out Clarence, were
unhappy with the way their lives were going and were seeking
something more. With Clarence, they read the Big Book and found
that its principles were lacking in what they had heard at meetings.
There was a type of recovery, they found, that was exemplified
in the Big Book but was not present in the rooms of A.A.
was awarded the prestigious Jefferson Award, both on the local
level and the National level. This was for service to humanity.
It was granted for A.A. work from 1937 forward. Clarence was
also given many other honors for his A.A. work.
these awards brought great honor to Clarence, he did not feel
as if they were nearly as much an honor as that was awarded
him when he brought someone through the steps and led someone
to a changed life in service to God. Clarence felt he was an
instrument whom God used for God's glory and honor.
held retreats in Florida twice a year, carrying the message
of recovery and leading people to his Lord, Jesus Christ. He
made commitments for similar retreats in Wisconsin, New York,
New Jersey and other places. He went wherever he was asked.
these retreats the A.A. message was stressed. The Christian
message and Prayer and Praise sessions began after the official
ending of the retreat as not to confuse the two, so that those
in attendance would not be mistaken as to the A.A. part and
the religious part.
those later Florida years, Clarence's life was filled with joy
and contentment. He was married to a woman who loved him and
was sharing his life and helping in carrying the message. He
was respected by many, but disliked probably by just as many.
However, Clarence always believed that, in order to do God's
will, there would be those who would scorn him and try to cause
derision. "If God is for me, who can be against me," Clarence
often said, quoting Romans 8:31, in the Bible.
life appeared to be the fulfillment of the promises in the Big
Book and his serenity was evident wherever he went. Clarence
had a message to carry to those who wanted to hear it. He had
a commitment to his sponsor to "fix rummies" as an avocation.
He honored this commitment and carried the message until the
day he died.