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"Alcoholics Anonymous Number Three"
"The Man on the Bed"
Dotson of Akron, Ohio.
182 in 2nd, 3rd and 4th editions.)
"Pioneer member of Akron's Group
No. 1, the first A.A. group in the world. He kept the
faith, therefore, he and countless others found a new
date of sobriety was the date he entered Akron's City Hospital
for his last detox, June 26, 1935, where Bill Wilson and
Dr. Bob visited him on June 28. His wife, Henrietta, recalled
years later that she had asked her pastor to try to help
him, and had prayed with another that someone who could
help would visit him at the hospital.
was a prominent lawyer, had been a city councilman, and
was a well-adjusted family man and active in his church.
Nonetheless, he had been hospitalized eight times in the
past six months because of his alcoholism and got drunk
even before he got home. When admitted this time he had
DTs and had blacked the eyes of two nurses before they managed
to strap him down. A nurse commented that he was a grand
chap "when sober."
walked out of that hospital on July 4, never to drink again.
A.A.'s first group dates from that day. Within a week, he
was back in court, sober, and arguing a case. The message
had been successfully shared a second time. Dr. Bob was
no fluke, and apparently you did not have to be indoctrinated
by the Oxford Group before the message could take hold.
immediately began working with Dr. Bob and Bill, and went
with them to visit Ernie Galbraith ("The Seven Month
Slip" in the 1st edition) and others.
in Akron said he was indeed a grand chap, when sober, one
of the most engaging people they ever knew. One said: "I
thought I was a real big shot because I took Bill Dotson
to meetings." Another noted that, though Bill Dotson
was influential, he was not an ambitious man in A.A., just
a good A.A. If you went to him for help he would help you.
He never drove a car, but he went to meetings every night,
standing around with his thumbs in his vest like a Kentucky
first documented court case was one Phil S., who was released
care of Dr. Bob through the efforts of Bill Dotson, who
talked with the judge who agreed to release him.
never submitted his story for the 1st edition. Various theories
include (1) he wanted to be paid for the story, (2) he was
too prominent a person, (3) he was too humble to have his
story appear. But in 1952 he told an interviewer that he
hadn't been much interested in the project or perhaps thought
it unnecessary. He added that Bill Wilson had come to Akron
to record his story, which would appear in the next edition
of the book. Perhaps by 1952 he was embarrassed that he'd
originally wanted to be paid for the story so didn't mention
it. But apparently he cooperated to have it appear in the
Dotson died September 17, 1954, in Akron. Bill Wilson wrote,
"That is, people say he died, but he really didn't.
His spirit and works are today alive in the hearts of uncounted
A.A.s, and who can doubt that Bill already dwells in one
of those many mansions in the great beyond. The force of
the great example that Bill set in our pioneering time will
last as long as A.A. itself."