A Tribute to Dr. Ernest Kurtz, 1935-2015

One of our greatest and wisest friends and colleagues passed away January 19, 2015. Dr Ernie Kurtz, author, trainer, professor and one of the best storytellers contributed to our understanding and dissemination of publications, training and expanded our knowledge and expertise regarding recovery. In his seminal book, “The Spirituality of Imperfection,” Ernie brought a perspective to addiction that raised up possibilities; the human condition, potential, and strength. He helped us to understand that strength could rise from the acknowledgment of weakness, that wholeness could rise from brokenness, that authentic connection and community could rise from the most severe forms of estrangement and isolation, and that envy and resentment could give way to forgiveness and gratitude. He suggested that “…by coming to terms with errors and shortcomings and by accepting the inability to control every aspect of their lives that alcoholics (or any human beings) can find the peace and serenity that alcohol (or other drugs, or sex, money, material possessions, power or privilege) promise, but never deliver.” The field will miss this type of wisdom and unique perspective steeped in years of research and experience.
The Great Lakes ATTC has had the privilege of working with Ernie Kurtz throughout the years. He has contributed, alongside William “Bill” White, to our Recovery efforts through his scholarly publications and writings that spoke to academics and lay persons. He also helped us to create what we often refer to as our C-SPAN product; “Reflections: Ernie Kurtz on the History of AA, Shame, and Storytelling with Bill White” (see product link below).

On a personal note: Ernie’s gentleness, wisdom and sincere love for people touched my heart and mind. He was a great Storyteller. Honest and open stories of his own imperfection inspired me to accept my own humanity; and that it’s okay — actually essential, that I share my imperfection with others. It felt good to realize that “I am not perfect” and that I can still find joy in the midst of challenges. What a wonderful man and what an honor and privilege it was to know him and to be called his friend.

— Lonnetta Albright
Executive Director, Great Lakes ATTC