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Richard “Dixie” Sanger
Founder of TRIAD
click for obituary
One of a kind. A “giant” in Wilmington’s recovery community. There aren’t ample words to describe our Dixie, the beloved founder of TRIAD.
Dixie lived and shared the gifts of recovery. Throughout his 45 years as an active member of Alcoholics Anonymous, he used his abundant talents and experience to benefit the alcoholics and addicts who suffer.
Dixie’s conception of TRIAD blossomed into a cornerstone of Wilmington’s recovery community. There he guided alcoholics and addicts through interventions, introduced them to the 12-steps, and made possible the free and reduced-cost addictions counseling that TRIAD offers.
TRIAD is a testament to Dixie’s vision. Within TRIAD’s recovery room, dozens of 12-step meetings remain a refuge for alcoholics and addicts. The counseling services provided by TRIAD have helped hundreds to sustain a life of recovery. Dixie has touched the lives of legions of people who have been served by TRIAD since its inception in 1975.
We are grateful for our friend and leader whose imagination and tireless action created TRIAD Addiction Recovery Services.
If you would like to honor Dixie with a memorial gift to TRIAD, please click here.
In Dixie’s Own Words – The Beginning Days of TRIAD
At its inception more than 40 years ago, TRIAD was more of a place than a program.
The place was an old row house at 1104 North Adams Street that had once been the home of Trinity Episcopal Church’s Sunday School. In the summer of 1975, when I had just returned from treatment, it stood virtually abandoned.
Jobless and fretting about what the future might hold for me and my family, I went to see the Rev. Robert M. Smith, the rector of Trinity. A couple of months shy of my 45th birthday, I was shattered, physically, mentally, and spiritually. I could not even bring myself to walk down Orange Street, which I had looked down on from my paneled corner office in the old News Journal only a few months before.
Bob was my pastor. He was also my good friend. I had been his senior warden during the final months of my drinking and drugging. He seemed to know a lot about alcoholism. When he was rector of the English-language Episcopal Church in Tokyo, he told me once, the AA hotline rang in his office.
“Why don’t you set up in Edmund du Pont’s old office on the third floor of 1104?” Bob asked. “Take your time. Think things over. Figure out what you can do to help, what the Church can do to help.”
I took him up on the offer, and with help from family and friends lugged some of my stuff up those two steep flights to my new digs — two rooms with bath! — atop an otherwise vacant building. As I undertook a needs assessment of addiction recovery services in the Wilmington area, I found that it could get pretty lonely up there,
For company and support, I started going around the corner to the Men’s Limen House for coffee with my friend Howard Cropper, then the assistant manager of that facility. I would also drop in at the 1212 Club, then located at the Corner of 12th and Market Streets. I drew comfort and strength just being in the company of other recovering people.
I had an idea. There was a small room in the front of the building at 1104 North Adams. I asked Bob if I could have the use of it for a kind of resource center where people could come to learn more about alcoholism and drug addiction, grab a cup of coffee, and, if they chose, talk to a recovering person.
“Take the whole building,” Bob said. ”Everything but the annex at the rear. We still use that for classes.”
That was the beginning of what became a busy drop-in center and the hub of TRIAD’s expanding work. We made free professional counseling available. Several still-existent meetings were started in the rooms upstairs. The center has been closed for years now, but the recovering community needs something like it. There is plenty of program in the Wilmington area, but very little place.