Synopsis of Tuesday, June 26, Christian Recovery Radio Interview by Dick B.
of Bonnie Burke (formerly Lepper), Managing Director of Wilson House
Copyright 2012 Anonymous. All rights reserved
First, you can hear this tremendous interview of Bonnie Burke right now as follows:
You may listen to Dick B.'s interview of Christian leader Bonnie Burke on the June 26, 2012, episode of the "Christian Recovery Radio with DickB" show here:
The "Christian Recovery Radio with DickB" show episodes are archived at:
The Interview by Dick B.
You are in for a heartwarming treat as you listen to Bonnie Burke, Managing Director of the Wilson House and Christian Recovery Leader, tell of her life, and her meeting her former husband Ozzie Lepper—who restored and founded Wilson House in East Dorset, Vermont.
The features at this unusual historical site are: (1) Wilson House itself is the birthplace of A.A. Cofounder Bill Wilson, who was born in a little room behind the bar, and whose final resting place is located at a nearby cemetery where his wife Lois is also buried. It functions as a non-profit inn, with A.A. and other meetings, and with regular educational seminars on alcoholism, A.A. history, spiritual roots, and other subjects germane to alcoholism. (2) Griffith House and the Griffith Library mark the place where Bill W. received most of his Christian upbringing as a youngster in Vermont. Today it houses a beautiful, well-maintained library containing thousands and thousands of books, articles, pamphlets, manuscripts, news items, memorabilia, records, and papers pertaining to the history of Alcoholics Anonymous and to its Christian origins, history, founding, original Christian Fellowship program in Akron, and its successes. (3) Since the restoration of both sites, Wilson House has become listed in the National Register of Historical Places. The library is open and accessible. Wilson house hosts guests at its Inn and visitors from all over the world. It has morning Quiet Time, A.A. meetings, Town meetings, meals, seminars, and retreats. (4) One of its little known features is the East Dorset Congregational Church which lies between Wilson House and Griffith House. Bill W.’s paternal grandparents were among the founders and officers of the church and owned Pew 15 which the family members occupied as they attended. Bill W.’s grandfather Willie Wilson—a drunkard—became saved and sober there for the rest of his life after a spiritual experience atop nearby Mount Aeolus. Bill’s parents were married in the church and lived in the parsonage for a time. The church covenant, creed, sermons, and teachings which my son Ken and I were privileged to view place strong emphasis on salvation and the truth of the Word of God. Bill attended Sunday school and church there. And he witnessed revivals, conversion meetings, and Temperance meetings. His maternal grandparents, the Griffiths, regarded East Dorset Congregational Church as their family church and regularly attended also.
Bonnie Burke’s own story is inspiring. She is from New Hampshire and Massachusetts, spent most of her life in New Hampshire, was devout in her Christian faith, and spent a great deal of her life as one very much involved in helping disabled. She and her first husband had three children, and her husband was completely disabled for many many years. Following his death, Bonnie was invited to go on a “blind date” with Ozzie Lepper. As she put it, Ozzie arrived in a red jeep, looking like Santa Claus (he had white hair and a long white beard), and a dog in the back. Ozzie explained to her that he was manager the Wilson House which he was restoring; and he told her much about Alcoholics Anonymous, East Dorset, and his dreams regarding the restorations. Before long, he and Bonnie were married; and they toiled long long hoursl developing Wilson House, conducting tours, answering questions, and managing details.
Ozzie explained that the Wilson House was erected to enable people to give thanks to God for the sobriety they had achieved with His help through Alcoholics Anonymous. Griffith House was erected to house thousands and thousands of A.A. items of literature—including the more than twenty-three thousand of my own books and historical papers donated by my benefactors.
Bonnie remembers the grand opening of the Griffith Library when Ozzie was ill and seated in a lawn chair outside. I was there. And Ozzie declared that his work was finished. Ill for a substantial period, Ozzie passed away. And in July of 2011, Bonnie married Tim Burke, who lived nearby the Wilson House in East Dorset.
Bonnie is writing a book about the Wilson House, and it will contain ample additional details. For eight years, she and Ozzie invited me to give seminars each year on the history of Alcoholics Anonymous and its Christian Recovery roots. Each endorsed my books. And I was given complete freedom to speak and teach on A.A. as it really was.
Wilson House is a 501©(3) Foundation, tax exempt, with contributions deductible. Ozzie never took a paycheck for his years of labor and dedication to the restoration. He kept the lights on bright at night to display the House as a place of peace, hope, and thanksgiving. The House welcomes financial contributions, in kind donations, historical items, and volunteers. And each year, its newsletter reports the benefactions that keep in thriving.