73 years ago today, on November 16, 1950, with over 15 years of continuous sobriety, the co-founder of the miracle that is Alcoholics Anonymous, Dr. Robert Holbrook Smith, known to most of us lovingly and reverently as Dr. Bob, uttered the words, “This is it” and passed in pain from cancer in this life to “a new horizon”, at the age of 71 at the City Hospital in Akron, Ohio. Dr. Bob is buried at the Mount Peace Cemetery in Akron, Ohio.
Bill Wilson himself called his partner Dr. Bob “the prince of all twelfth-steppers.” Dr. Bob carried the A.A. message to more than 5,000 alcoholic men and women, and to all these he gave his medical services without thought of charge.
Several weeks prior to Dr. Bob’s passing Bill W. had his last conversation with his partner, Dr. Bob, at 855 Ardmore Avenue in Akron about calling the first General Service Conference. As they parted ways for what was to be the last time Dr. Bob stated, “Remember, Bill, let’s not louse this thing up. Let’s keep it simple!”
The following is from Dr. Bob’s “Farewell Talk”, often referred to as the Gettysburg Address of Alcoholics Anonymous, which was was given at the first A. A. International Convention on July 30, 1950 in Cleveland, Ohio, just months before his passing:
“My good friends in A.A. and of A.A.,
… I get a big thrill out of looking over a vast sea of faces like this with a feeling that possibly some small thing I did a number of years ago played an infinitely small part in making this meeting possible. I also get quite a thrill when I think that we all had the same problem. We all did the same things. We all get the same results in proportion to our zeal and enthusiasm and stick-to-itiveness. If you will pardon the injection of a personal note at this time, let me say that I have been in bed five of the last seven months and my strength hasn’t returned as I would like, so my remarks of necessity will be very brief.
There are two or three things that flashed into my mind on which it would be fitting to lay a little emphasis. One is the simplicity of our program. Let’s not louse it all up with Freudian complexes and things that are interesting to the scientific mind, but have very little to do with our actual A.A. work. Our Twelve Steps, when simmered down to the last, resolve themselves into the words “love” and “service.” We understand what love is, and we understand what service is. So let’s bear those two things in mind.
Let us also remember to guard that erring member the tongue, and if we must use it, let’s use it with kindness and consideration and tolerance.
And one more thing: None of us would be here today if somebody hadn’t taken time to explain things to us, to give us a little pat on the back, to take us to a meeting or two, to do numerous little kind and thoughtful acts in our behalf. So let us never get such a degree of smug complacency that we’re not willing to extend, or attempt to extend, to our less fortunate brothers that help which has been so beneficial to us.
Thank you very much,