Recovery Legacy: Remembering Tom Claunch

Shannon Alder once wrote, “Carve your name on hearts, not tombstones. A legacy is etched into the minds of others and the stories they share about you.” Shannon’s quote is very compelling and perhaps one of the most clearly stated on the true essence of leaving a legacy. Which helps us to beg the question, what kind of legacy do you want to leave? Will your children and grandchildren respect you? Will you leave a legacy etched in their hearts? In late March, Tom Claunch, a recovery inspiration living in New Zealand, passed away in Alabama while visiting family, but he left a huge legacy for his children, grandchildren, and the recovery community.

Tom’s Clinic: Training Counselors:

Tom began his recovery work in treatment centers in the U.S. and Britain before embarking on his journey to New Zealand where he touched as many as 10,000 people struggling with addiction in New Zealand. During his 16 years there, Tom also trained counselors, eventually co-founding the Capri Clinic in Auckland in 1998. His colleague Bridget Wilson said that “He was training counsellors back in the 90s when there was no training there, that’s a reasonably recent thing, so a lot of people in the field now owe what they have to Tom.”

Tom’s Passion: Sharing Hope

Like our founder, Gene Duffy, Tom also celebrated year after year of sobriety while sharing his own experience, strength and hope with others. Even after 40+ years, he never lost his compassion for those who needed recovery.

Wilson said, “He always had a soft spot in his heart for the still-suffering addict,” and “was just as loving towards the people that come in here as he was on day one.”

Tom’s Legacy: Inspiration for Us

A piece of advice Tom gave is “experience is not the greatest teacher, other people’s experience is.” Let that be true for us today.

What can Tom Claunch’s experience teach us? Here’s just a few lessons:

  • Sobriety is not scary. A life without alcohol can be a life well-lived.
  • Helping others in recovery is vital to our own recovery.
  • We have the potential to change lives.

Tom Claunch will truly be missed by all those he impacted, but his legacy will live on.

What legacy will you leave? And what better month than Alcohol Awareness month to start building it?