Ernie G., Akron, Ohio.
(OM, p. 282 in 1st edition.)
Ernie first got sober in August 1935, probably the first after Bill D. (“A.A. Number 3”), while Bill W. was still staying with Dr. Bob and Anne S. in Akron. He married Dr. Bob’s daughter, Sue.
Sue, about 17 at the time, said that the first time she saw Ernie he stopped her on the street to ask her how to get to their house. She pointed out the house, but did not tell him that she was Sue S.
She described him as stout, blue eyed, with reddish hair and a round face. He had a good sense of humor and was a good storyteller, who could make her mother and father laugh, “like nobody I had ever seen, just sitting around the kitchen table, telling stories, and drinking coffee.”
He was a wild, devil-may care young fellow, who had enlisted for a one-year term in the Army when he was only 14 (but could pass for 18). After getting out of the Army he went to Mexico where he worked for an oil company, then rode the range in Texas. He had been married twice and had a son. After returning to Akron he had trouble holding a job because of his drinking.
His parents were very religious and belonged to the same church as T. Henry and Clarace Williams of the Oxford Group. It was probably they who told his parents about how Dr. Bob and Bill W. had found a way to quit drinking.
They urged Ernie to see Dr. Bob and eventually he did. He agreed to be taken to City Hospital where he was tapered off. It took several days, he wrote, for his head to clear and his nerves to settle.
After about six days in the hospital, Dr. Bob, Bill W., and Bill D. visited him and explained their program to him, and he agreed to give it a try. And it worked, he wrote, as long as he allowed it to do so. He stayed sober for about a year and then slipped for seven months.
Finally he went back unshaven, unkempt, looking ill, and bleary-eyed, and asked for help again. He wrote that he was never lectured about his seven-month failure.
Beginning shortly after she finished grade school, Sue had been seeing a boy named Ray Windows. She claims that her parents disapproved of Ray and tried to break them up. Sue believes her father deliberately tried to get her interested in Ernie in order to keep her away from Ray. But it is doubtful that Dr. Bob ever meant for her to become romantically involved with Ernie.
Eventually she broke it off with Ray and married Ernie. He was drunk when he married Sue in September of 1941. Her parents were not aware of the marriage until they heard about it or read it in the papers. They were dismayed.
Dr. Bob said Ernie “never really jelled.” Sue S. remembered that they did not know what to do with him. He even got to where he wanted to get paid for speaking at meetings. He had periodic relapses, which got worse and worse until the time he died.
Sue and Ernie had two children, a son (Mickey) and a daughter (Bonna). They divorced about 1965 and she married Ray W.. On June 11, 1969, their daughter, Bonna, shot herself, after first killing her six-year old daughter. She was 23 at the time of her death. According to Sue, Ernie never got over it. Bonna died June 11, 1969, and he died two years later to the day, June 11, 1971.