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William Duncan Silkworth died of a heart attack in his
home in New York, Thursday morning, March 22. Thus we
of A.A. have lost the physical presence of the great doctor
who was our first friend. He gave deep understanding and
great encouragement to an infant society in the days when
a lack of understanding or a word of discouragement might
easily have killed it. He freely risked his professional
reputation to champion an unprecedented spiritual answer
to the medical enigma and the human tragedy of alcoholism.
Without his blessing, our faith might well have died in
its birth. He was a luminous exception to the rule that
only an alcoholic understands an alcoholic. He knew us
better than we knew ourselves... .better than we know
each other. Many of us felt that his medical skill, great
as that was, was not at all the full measure of his stature.
Dr. Silkworth was something that it is difficult even
to mention in these days. He was a saintly man. He stood
in an unusual relationship to truth. He was able to see
the truth of a man, when that truth was deeply hidden
from the man himself and from everyone else. He was able
to save lives that were otherwise beyond help of any kind.
Such a man cannot really die. Our friend has only left
us....for a while.
© The A.A.
Grapevine, Inc., April 1951
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