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Members pay homage to AA founders

6/12/2014 - South Side Leader
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By Ariel Hakim

Photos: Dale Dong
GREATER AKRON — Members and supporters of Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) enjoyed sunny skies June 7 as they celebrated Founders’ Day at various West Akron sites marking the organization’s beginnings.

Activities for the 79th anniversary took place throughout the weekend and were based on the campus of The University of Akron (UA), where recovering alcoholics and others descended on InfoCision Stadium Saturday evening for the “big meeting,” where member Danny B. from Houston, Texas, followed a performance by the Serenity Singers with his talk, “If you don’t drink, you won’t get drunk.”

Throughout the weekend, Dr. Bob’s Home, located on Ardmore Avenue in West Akron, was the site of major activity. Many lined up outside Saturday to visit and pay homage to Bob and Anne Smith for their part in AA’s founding, shown above near right. Smith was an Akron doctor and a co-founder of AA who lived there from 1916 until his death in 1950. The house became a museum in 1985 and was designated a National Historic Landmark in 2012.

Another hub of activity took place at the Gate Lodge on the grounds of Stan Hywet Hall & Gardens, where Henrietta Seiberling brought together Smith and New York stockbroker Bill Wilson on Mother’s Day in 1935. Smith and Wilson, both admitted alcoholics, developed the principles that still serve as the cornerstone for the organization, according to Stan Hywet officials. The Gate Lodge formally was dedicated as the “Birthplace of Alcoholics Anonymous” in 2000 and reopened in 2004, according to Stan Hywet officials. Shown at bottom right is Elzbieta, a visitor from Chicago, who is in front of the Gate Lodge taking notes.

Visitors also paid their respects at the Smiths’ gravesite, located in Mt. Peace cemetery on Aqueduct Street. A group from Cincinnati are shown above right embracing at the site.

A close up of the Smiths’ grave, where Dr. Bob and Anne are both buried, shows tokens left in remembrance at the monument. 

— By Ariel Hakim

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