Traditions War: a pathway to peace

Chapter 19 
Traditions War Memorial

Our Memorial is for those who have crossed over
or who have suffered greatly due to violations of our Twelve Traditions
and the principles behind them that protect us from useless conflicts.


Origins of the Memorial  

On Saturday night, I had a discussion with another member working on this book. We discussed the Traditions and the fall out behind the change of structure and the book. We remembered fallen members that were gone. Good spirited people with no other intent or motive than that of helping the addict that still suffered.. Vietnam has a wall for fallen soldiers that died in a war that should not have been, why don't we. So, the idea was made to have a thread on our website with just that, a memorial to fallen members, giving facts of their person, spirit and service, as well as what happened to them..

By Sunday morning I thought, "I don't know if I dreamed this or not " But some time after our talk Sat evening, I had a flash! A book titled "Victors Of The Traditions War" With a memorial chapter to fallen members. I talked it over with other members interested in the work on history. A good discussion followed. The chapters can be defined but the intro needs the to state what this war has been about.. That is the difference between a corporate mentality of nA service vs a spiritual mentality of service. That is it in a nut-shell. I will take a page to define. There is a quote from an underground newspaper in Atlanta, the "Great Speckled Bird" in its first issue: "These are our opinions and we are entitled to them, they are not written anywhere else. So, don't expect us to tell both sides of the story. The big newspapers, magazines, TV and radio do that all day long. Here you will hear our side of things." We attempt to give both sides in this book but we admit to a bias.

If you have friends that have fallen in this conflict then write it down.. Don't juice it up, just tell the truth.. Who were they, what did they do to help you and NA as a whole, what happened.

You know there are some 12 step calls that need to be made.. There are some fallen members that are still suffering.. I suggest we all PRAY for these NOW and keep it up. A hand of fellowship needs to be reached out to them... Love conquers disease. When is the last time we had a jonesing addict on our couch? Treatment centers and good times have made a lot of us soft..

The time in now, the work is ours, if it is to be it is up to me, and you and you and you and you and you....... Now the question is do we have the courage to open the door and let some light in?




Jimmy Kinnon - spent good part of his life devoted to NA. He was not treated with the respect he deserved. Unfortunately, some of his friends don't appear to be representative of his good spirits and humor. He always helped us when we called. He manned the telephone through the 1970's and answered night or day. One time I called and told him an institution - jail - in Texas was critical of our rough language in the NA meeting there and he said, "It's none of their business what we say in our meetings." It was a comfort to have such quick and positive support. The politics surrounding the expansion of the WSO were high-pressured and that may explain if not excuse some of the rough interaction. He was a speaker at the NA World Convention at New York and sat next to Father Egan who mentioned the pre-1953 NA in New York. Jimmy was smiling through this.


Jack Whaley – Jack was the first outspoken Board of Trustee Chair to take up for NA and seriously agitate for more solidarity among its members in early 1970’s. (check date – Ed)


Gina Helguerra - wrote some of the Basic Text, wonderful story in Book 2. From Nashville, ran in music circles. Very educated and good with people. Singer. When NA lit movement caved in she lost her focus and wandered into obsession. Moved to Miami and got involved with a doctor. Lived with AIDS for a time. Moved home to Nashville where she died.


Greg Pierce - wrote our original service structure NA Tree and served on Board of Trustees during most of 1970's and 1980's. Grandfather of our Basic Text. He had the original idea to expand the Little White Book into a topic outline for the book. He worked hard at the World Literature Conference II at Lincoln, Nebraska - NA’s first week long service conference.  800 pages were factored into Greg’s outline. Also, formulated the plan to fund the expansion of WSO by selling new books for $25 numbered with a special red cover. Spoke at countless NA conventions and service conferences, chairman of the NA World Service Board and mentor to many, many NA members wanting to be effective and correct in their service to NA.


Tom the Red - Hitchhiked across America, got stranded in desert and got hell of a sunburn - hence his nickname. He also had red hair. Tall and skinny, he was a warm personality and contributed much of his time towards the book effort, attending conferences in Memphis and Santa Monica. Story told of his getting involved with women on a live in basis and someone shot him at the door one day.


Billy Russell - Extremely active service worker in Northern Alabama. Absolutely wonderful NA member. Relapsed and never was able to accumulate clean time again. Active in H&I service work.


Grover N. - First major effort to write out NA history. Members from all over East Coast came to Conference in Madison, Alabama, Allentown, Pennsylvania and Montgomery, Alabama. These were all large, well planned Conferences with impressive list of notable NA members from all over. Video tapes lost to one member who was supposed to send them into to Alabama, headquarters for the history conferences. Members moved in from out of state and were so disruptive to the history effort that dissension took over and the effort died out. Grover so demoralized, he moved to Oklahoma, leaving behind all his life in Alabama.


Joe P. - One of the greatest service workers in the history of NA. One of the individuals responsible for the Basic Text. First attended the Lincoln Lit Conference in 1980. Rallied together hosting for the Memphis Literature Conference where our Basic Text first saw the light of day. As Joe used to say, “If we don’t stand for something, we’ll fall for anything.”


Perry L. - My Name is Lester and I am an Addict in Recovery. I am sending this reply in hope that it my somehow find its way into the Chapter on fallen members, in the Traditions War Book. I got clean in Portland, OR in 1986 and at that time we had a member here whose name was Perry L.  Perry had over 2 yrs in Recovery and was very outspoken about his Recovery and very visible in our fellowship.  Even though he was not my sponsor. Perry kind of took me under his wing, which was his way with newcomers in particular if they showed any amount of Sincerity in wanting to stay clean. Perry was very active in H&I and became my mentor so to speak.  I chose to go to my 1st Jail meeting with him because I wanted what he had. I wanted to learn from the best. Perry had also been instrumental in getting H&I into our jail system here in Portland. So I followed Perry into the Jails and later into Area and eventually Regional Service and H&I Rep. which became a strong part of Recovery.


Unfortunately, the pull of our addiction took Perry back out following his 9th Anniversary and he was never able to return to these rooms. During one of his several attempts to regain some recovery, a member is said to have asked him what took him back out and his reply was something that I believe can benefit us all.


He replied that there were some things listed in his 4th step that he had failed to deal with in the remaining steps. And because of this Narcotics Anonymous lost a great person who had touched the lives of hundreds possibly thousands and had given them hope and recognition that laid the groundwork for their recovery.


Ten years have passed since Perry's departure, and I am still in Recovery, and still working the steps and still attempting to practice these principals in all of my affairs. One of the things that Perry use to say was that if we don't get Humble we will get Humiliated. Many of my friends that I have today are also still in Recovery in part because of the knowledge that was so freely given to them by a fellow addict in Recovery whose name was Perry L.


  Thank you for allowing me to share. – Lester



Big Lou – Denounced from the podium at Upper West Coast WCNA in for his participation in the Baby Blue movement, Lou relapsed and was never able to get clean again. He died of overdose. 


Bill Brooks – One of the founders of NA in Alabama, Bill devoted his life to recovery and did all in his power to help others, the NA way. I spoke to him at the “Out of the Darkness, Into the Light” convention the year before he died and he made a bitter statement about nobody owing him a thing. I was right on it and said without pause, “No, Bill. Lots of people owe you their lives. We are just going though our adolesence as a Fellowship and the membership hasn’t learned how to regard members who devote their lives to their well-being. It is part of the disease.”  He seemed stunned by this and I was glad he said nothing and thought about it. He was able to rally a bit from his prolonged bout with cancer and was a speaker at the WCNA Atlanta.


Larry North – One of the pioneering members of the NA Fellowship in the early days of the Mid-Atlantic RSC, Larry was an ardent member who drove countless newcomers to conventions and was one of the founding members of the Virginia RSC. He was denied recognition at the first WSC because some thought the region was contrived by Larry just to give himself a vote on the Conference floor. This was very selective because many other regions had been formed with much less basis for recognition during the same time period. Larry was WSC Policy Chair one year and even when his health began to fail due to emphezema, he continued to be as active as possible in NA.





Lynn Watkins

Eyewitness account of politics in early days of World Service Conference

and the Transition from the original WSO




I was there also listening to many crazy things concerning the WSO. Jimmy was really up into having a basic text published for sure. The literature committee had no thoughts of trying to run NA back then and Jimmy was just doing his best he could. So much happened so inadvertently and in a manner of him just to me it seems he was just replaced instead of actually rousted out. And with that he just went home from all appearances - from what he told me. He was fearful that people would take over outside of framework of what he was doing (to perpetuate NA) under auspices of becoming a great entity set on making money behind the book, and he was afraid how this would go about . . . I remember talking to him and he did not appear to have animosity toward Bob, but unfortunately he did have some toward Bo, fearing Bo may have had something to do with him being removed from office. I know and knew Bo then and there was no such behind the scenes on Bo's part to any such thing for sure. In talking to Jimmy, I tried to allay his fears that anyone in Atlanta was out to get him and I tried desperately to get him to come to Atlanta and just talk. I do remember a spectre of someone calling him and supposedly threatening him if he did not leave, and my understanding is that this was a person on their on and had nothing to do with a group or group conscience for sure. It was very trying time for Bob too for sure as he tried to collaborate and get printing out for the book.


The excitement was unbelievable though with the blue and red books that was just to raise money you know just to get the initial set of books published. Even Bo feared for his life because of very deep underlying animosity of people resenting him for pushing and getting the book going in spite of the office.


In talking to Bob on several occasions with his small staff at the time, especially after the big theft fiasco and put book publishing behind he really was so sorry things were not going as they should it seemed. There were strong factions in Atlanta on three sides, the AA/NA people saying we did not need book and Bo and his people were not qualified and should be written by professions etc. besides they had their aa big book, and so there were some very animosity undercurrents between these people at times.


Me, like the dumb ass I was, was trying to allay everyone on all sides and really did not know lot of the behind the scenes scheming on all sides, as the time when I went to WSC in Santa Monica to visit as a spectator only, but also in my hands were many documents to undercut Bo and take any credibility from him and make him look bad so as to keep him from becoming Chairman, and this I gave to each RSR to add gasoline to the flame and without Bo being there to defend himself, even as I had talked to him on nice terms and agreeable to him but wearing double face of trying to please everyone. I did this thing not knowing the consequences of my actions and there were newcomers there too that took this information and ran with it so to speak to strengthen their position in the WSO with there handpicked ones behind the scenes, as like I was at someone house once in Beverly Hills hearing in next room three people one relative new comer soon to be running office hard time for use to even get Bob Stone more business like to run business as such and would soon be taking over himself with much push from friend old timer at that time anyway to do this. So I went to conference confused and feeling too many closed doors and secrets going behind the scenes as to what would actually happen at the conference. I talked to Jimmy about this and tried my very level best to assure him that I knew Bo and Bo would never ever do anything to harm him for sure and Gregg had nothing but good things to say about Jimmy, and seemed even that he wished he had stayed sometimes to keep controversy down.


At that time though after some of us did foolish things to sabotage the book and the WSO at the same time, things went along anyway. For changes, and even hearing of behind scenes of changing the basic structure of NA which I did not understand at the time, but certainly do today, which I wish I had listened to. By this time I was no longer a fence rider and felt pretty true to NA and it purposes, but wish it had not taken so long though, cause even though I was asked to input to the book and worked on it sometimes myself also at the Highland Club and the Rising Sun Club House and meeting others writing so very hard and inputting I still had my stupid little issues of keeping people going different paths to stay together, and all it did was hurt sometimes in NA's eventual growth. After undermining Bo by that stupid letter from some people that wished to humiliate and disgrace him, I had a very hard road to climb especially after I gave up on fence riders and skeptics of other fellowships trying to dictate and used their popularity to perpetuate their own agendas in all their fellowships. It was at this time I dedicate myself to NA in spite of my foolishness of trying to be with people not truly dedicated to one purpose of NA only . . . This was a very lonely place and isolation was part of the consequences of my actions on all sides at times it seemed, until we had first world convention of NA in Atlanta, and even in its mess still being run by others, our next home regional had a much different perspective when we really finally got off the ground and used money to open up a little office, and I remember at that time Jimmy K was so excited about it and the influence the book was having in the community and much reorganization going, but at that time could not have but reservations of what Jimmy K. warned me about and motives being questioned as I soon found out. The true hard NA's supported me in getting office going and there was a permissiveness there thru region committees to let me do my thing, and found out die hard nA members really behind it. Remember going to California again and getting first set of 100 books direct from conference and going to Panama City Fun in the Sun (oldest convention east of Mississippi you know} and selling them right off. Will never forget it, and even guy who wrote a story in it had to stand in line to get one and he got mad at me cause I would not reserve him some for his friends and all (I think he still resents me for that though). .But was able to pay office back from sell off books though and gave credibility for us anyway and Bob Stone was very permissive in letting me have more books on credit...


I did many things to try to redo and make amends to the fellowship and particularly Bo for my underhandedness at WSC while I was being controlled by others. I hope he forgives me today for my stupidity and not listening very well to those closed cliche rumors and get togethers in California. Even Jimmy informed me he was excluded much and it did hurt him very bad, and much of this resentment was take to his grave with him, but he had a resignation about him that he did the best he could and did not hate anyone He would always tell me not to let the small things get me down and keep doing what I was doing and ignore controversy or it would also run me off from NA, and I did not have to leave or run anymore. Those were bout last words of sharing he gave me before he got sick and I moved to Texas, where NA really was barren and addiction was truly not understood with mixed up programs, treatment centers, confusing issues, and hats passed around with no traditions!!! So what I had learned was really awesome taking into unknown territory ignorant of ongoing history of NA as a whole and even trying to get meetings going there was awesome, so am still very grateful for what Bo basically taught me about singleness of purpose, broad of vision and Jimmy K. insisting I did not have to run any more but could make a difference in my life and others.


Even years later I regret much of the things I could have done more constructively, even going through first heart attach, surgery, recovery and isolating I could have done more, and especially regret hurting Bo inadvertently.  Kermit talks about telling truth and I am not very politically correct for proper sharing so to speak with many powers that be I suppose. But still feel very hurt from that original cliche that found one anther that used book for own purposes to just perpetuate big business so to speak and how so many feel today they have no say so or affect at times, cause all has been done already.


This is farthest from the truth, much still needs to be done in all phases. I just wish I had strength resources etc, but I do not any longer for sure and so have nothing any longer to loose like I once did telling the truth....


I just wish Anonymi would get strong again so that I did not feel so isolated any longer and people look at me like I was crazy like when I tell them I even got a TV show once going called NA!!!! instigated much back then we did, and am afraid too much apathy is around corner now and need to help build some fires again. I could at least try to write something a bout sponsorship I suppose, but my spirit is still low sometimes and says what difference will it make anyway? Stinking thinking for sure. I am hoping a praying God will help me get out of my funk and do some hiking and not feel like such a useless has been...


PS: I remember that crazy Kermit coming to Atlanta to his first convention. I believe and their total fascination with such growth, I think about 82 not even sure any more and watched him grow through years and not losing his enthusiasm, so will pray for more as I go. But God knows I still sure miss Jimmy K. and Gregg P. now for sure, but still hear them swing their NA two by four. May the great power of love and honor through your Higher Power always be with you. and lots of NA hugs and love. (hope nobody pissed about me posting this long note so to speak.)


Lynn Watkins

November 8, 2000



Hit Counter hits in 2004!


Reprinted from the 
Traditions War: a pathway to peace
2003 Form

Copyright © December 2001
Victor Hugo Sewell, Jr.

NA Foundation Group
6685 Bobby John Road Atlanta, GA 30349 USA


All rights reserved. This draft may be copied by members of Narcotics Anonymous for the purpose of writing input for future drafts, enhancing the recovery of NA members and for the general welfare of the Narcotics Anonymous Fellowship as a whole. The use of an individual name is simply a registration requirement of the Library of Congress and not a departure from the spirit or letter of the Pledge, Preface or Introduction of this book. Any reproduction by individuals or organizations outside the Fellowship of Narcotics Anonymous is prohibited. Any reproduction of this document for personal or corporate monetary gain is prohibited.

Last update January 12, 2006