The 1975 AA schedule for Central Florida shows 35 groups representing 56 meetings a week. Since its inception in 1944, AA’s growth in the area was rapid but manageable.
The Orlando area was still the hub of AA activity for a sizable geographic area. In addition to carrying AA meetings to Lowell Prison north of Ocala, a group regularly took meetings to the rehabilitation facility in Avon Park, 80 miles south of Orlando. For one and a half years, Marvin R. took on the task of transporting AAs on their monthly visits, flying them there in an airplane he rented for the occasion. If the weather was right and time permitted, he landed en route, lunching at a fly-in restaurant before proceeding to their destination. After a late afternoon meeting, our visitors dined at the facility before returning to Orlando, sometimes after dark. Marvin always had more AAs ready to accompany him than there were seats on the aircraft.
On Sunday, November 2, 1975, while returning to Orlando at night, with thunderstorms in the area. Marvin crashed, killing himself and two others, Jim K. and Jim M. It shocked our fellowship In the next few days, we attended three funerals, one for a Protestant, one for a Catholic, and one for a Jew.
None of us know what these three talked about during their trip—at the airport, at the facility, dining dinner, or while on their return to Orlando. That night squalls of thunderstorms hammered their way through the area. Theirs could not have been a pleasant experience, trying to pick their way around thunderheads with only lightening flashes to light the way. And we will never know what they were thinking. We do know, however, that they died while serving the fellowship they dearly loved, carrying the message to the still suffering alcoholic.
The Avon Park staff and those who attended the AA meeting on November 2, 1975, were shocked when they received news that Marvin and the two Jims were killed. One patient committed his feeling to a painting which he presented to Marvin’s wife. She thought the painting should be seen by Marvin’s AA friends and presented it to our Intergroup. Today it hangs in the Intergroup Office.
Normally AA groups are not named after people. An exception was made by Marvin’s home group. The Marvin R. Group met Saturdays, 8 p.m., at the John Knox Presbyterian Church, 118 E. Par Avenue at Formosa.
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