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Dr Robert Holbrook “Bob” Smith

Dr Robert Holbrook “Bob” Smith

Birth
Saint Johnsbury, Caledonia County, Vermont, USA
Death 16 Nov 1950 (aged 71)
Akron, Summit County, Ohio, USA
Burial Akron, Summit County, Ohio, USA
Plot Section 21, Lot 65, Grave 7
Memorial ID 2536 · View Source
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Social Reformer. A surgeon and physician, he was the co-founder of Alcoholics Anonymous. Raised in a very religious home in a community where consumption of alcohol was considered immoral, he had his first taste of alcohol when he was nine years old. As a child, he was forced to attend church services up to five times a week, which caused him to vow that he would never attend church once he was no longer under parental control. He attended Dartmouth University where drinking beer and hard cider were his primary activities. He graduated from Dartmouth in 1902, and then sold hardware for three years. He persuaded his parents to send him to medical school at the University of Michigan. His continued drinking led to his expulsion after his second year. His father enabled a transfer to Rush University where hard liquor replaced beer and his binge drinking escalated. He was given one last chance to graduate only if he did not drink for two more semesters. He finally became a doctor at the age of 31 in 1910. He worked as an intern in a hospital for about two years and was so busy that he did not drink heavily. He married in 1915 and went into private practice in Akron, Ohio. He moderated his drinking while practicing medicine, specializing in colorectal surgery, only drinking after work but taking sedatives to get through the day. Soon he began drinking heavily again and checked himself into more than ten sanitariums and hospitals to try to stop. He thought that Prohibition being passed in 1919 would help as alcohol would not be available, but he got exemptions for medicinal alcohol and continued to drink. In 1933 his wife attended a lecture by Frank Buchman, a member of the Oxford Group founded by Harvey Firestone. The Oxford Group was a religious movement whose members practiced self-improvement by performing self-inventory, admitting wrongs, making amends, using prayer and meditation and carrying the message to others. Attending Oxford Group meetings did not help him recover. Then he met Bill Wilson, a businessman who stayed sober by helping other alcoholics through the Oxford Group. Bill Wilson was in Akron on a business trip and was afraid he would relapse into alcoholism. Someone referred him to Dr. Smith and the two alcoholics were able to talk about their alcoholism from having shared experiences. Using the Oxford Group as a model and adding the element of alcoholics talking to alcoholics the two men founded Alcoholics Anonymous. June 17, 1935, the date that Dr. Smith had his last drink of alcohol is, acknowledged as the founding date of Alcoholics Anonymous.

Bio by: Gail Campbell Schulte


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  • Maintained by: Find A Grave
  • Added: 1 Jan 2001
  • Find A Grave Memorial 2536
  • Find A Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com : accessed ), memorial page for Dr Robert Holbrook “Bob” Smith (8 Aug 1879–16 Nov 1950), Find A Grave Memorial no. 2536, citing Mount Peace Cemetery, Akron, Summit County, Ohio, USA ; Maintained by Find A Grave .