Richmond Walker

in A.A. History

Chronology of His Life


Aug. 2, 1892

Rich started drinking  

William Howard Taft ran for a second term as president as a Republican, Theodore Roosevelt split off half of his votes by running for what would have been his second full term on the Progressive (Bull Moose) third party ticket, and Woodrow Wilson (who therefore easily won) ran for the Democrats; Rich’s father deeply involved  

June 4, 1914
Rich graduated Williams College  

Apr. 6, 1917
U.S. declared war on Germany, entered W. W. I  

Nov. 11, 1918
Armistice signed, end of W.W. I  

c. 1919
he and Joe formed Walker Top Co., house on Beacon Hill in Boston  

Oct. 28, 1919
Volstead Act (Prohibition completely outlawed beverage alcohol in the whole United States)  

May 8, 1922
married Agnes Nelson, lived in Brookline MA, then Chestnut Hill  

Oct. 1929
the stock market crash which led to the Great Depression  

forced to move to Cohasset, Massachusetts  

Dec. 1933
21st amendment ended Prohibition  

c. 1935
twelve-year-old daughter Hilda died, resigned as partner in the firm  

Oxford Group, sober two and a half years  

The founding of A.A. in Boston: Paddy K. met Burt C. through the Jacoby Club, and they held the first A.A. meeting in Boston on Wednesday, November 13, 1940. By March of 1941, their little A.A. group was meeting every Wednesday at the Jacoby Club quarters on 115 Newbury Street, just west of the Public Gardens and Boston Common.

The A.A. group did not make a full break from the Jacoby Club until 1942, shortly before Rich joined their group.

Rich drank again for one and a half years, nine-month separation from his wife  

May 1942
death of his father, back with wife, joined A.A., never drank again  

early 50s
Due to the extremely rapid growth of the movement, there were now a large number of A.A. groups in the Boston area. Rich -- who understood the all-important necessity of keeping the A.A. fellowship intact -- was a prime leader in forming the Boston A.A. intergroup to keep all these groups working in cooperation with one another.  

Rich began to consider his home in Daytona Beach, Florida as his principal place of residence; he also helped in forming the A.A. intergroup there to make sure that all the A.A. groups which were now springing up in that part of Florida would be able to function smoothly together. The A.A. people in Florida consider Rich to be their great A.A. figure.  

compiled the Twenty-Four Hour book, began distributing it on his own  

Rich asked New York A.A. if they could take over the printing and distribution, but they could not even consider it.

New York was barely able to come up with the money at that point to publish the Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions (first printing April 1953), and the only way they could do that was to enter into an arrangement with a commercial publisher, and allow a commercialized version to also appear for a while. They absolutely could not take on any other printing projects in 1953.

Patrick Butler at Hazelden offered to take over the printing and distributing of the book.

NOTE:  Rich had nothing to do with Hazelden otherwise. Hazelden was not even started until 1949, the year after Rich put out the first edition of the Twenty-Four Hour book. And even here in 1954, Hazelden was not much more than a large farmhouse on a Minnesota farm.

The psychiatrists and psychotherapists did not really take over the Hazelden operation until later, in the 1960s -- their people basically won control of its administration in 1966 -- and their program began referring to "chemical dependency" and treating alcoholism and drug addiction as simply two forms of the same addictive tendency, and so on, in ways that so often infuriate so many of the A.A. old-timers. Richmond Walker was already dead by then (he died in 1965) -- his book is most definitely NOT a statement of that later "treatment center mentality."

this lead was given in Rutland, Vermont;  over 80,000 copies of the book had now been distributed;  probably more A.A. people at that time owned a copy of Rich's Twenty-Four Hour book than owned their own copy of the Big Book  

Mar. 25, 1965
Rich died with 22 years of sobriety  

Sources for knowledge of the historical background

For more on the development of early Boston A.A. see Richard M. Dubiel, The Road to Fellowship: The Role of the Emmanuel Movement and the Jacoby Club in the Development of Alcoholics Anonymous, Hindsfoot Foundation Series on the History of Alcoholism Treatment (New York: iUniverse, 2004).

For the historical development of the Hazelden Foundation, see the fully detailed account in the excellent book by William L. White, Slaying the Dragon: The History of Addiction Treatment and Recovery in America (Bloomington IL: Chestnut Health Systems, 1998). Copies may be obtained by contacting Chestnut Health Systems at 720 W. Chestnut St., Bloomington, Illinois 61701 (or by phoning toll free 888-547-8271).