John Southworth was born January 1, 1938 in Oakley Idaho. John spent his early years in Oakley until the family moved to Caldwell in 1958. He was born with a quick wit, sharp mind and irrepressible sense of humor that would serve him well throughout his life.
Following a short time at Idaho State University, as a young man, John had a number of agriculture related jobs, including driving potato trucks. While he learned many skills during that time, he also discovered that farming was not his life calling.
John had a competitive side and a strong work ethic. Those qualities led him to create an office supply business that stretched across the Pacific Northwest. The disease of addiction eventually caused John to lose his office supply empire, and those life lessons were seared into him. He used to laugh about being the only member of the Arid Club who had to get there on the bus.
After several attempts at treatment, John acquired the gift of sobriety in 1982. He often said his worst day sober was better than his best day drinking and using. Sobriety was such an important part of John’s life, he decided to dedicate the remainder of his time to helping others in need, achieve it.
He became a DUI evaluator in 1983 and a certified addiction counselor in 1984. Later he achieved counselor certifications at the national and international level. After several years of experience as a counselor, he decided to focus on helping families as an interventionist. John helped hundreds of addicts as he shared his own experience and convinced them to give treatment and sobriety a chance. His reputation spread not only across the US, but also into many other countries. John traveled millions of miles around the globe, helping those suffering from addiction find sobriety.
Not satisfied with what he could do as an individual, John founded Southworth Associates. His team runs employee and professional assistance programs as well as monitoring services and conferences. Those services have guided thousands toward recovery.
While working professionally as hard as possible, John was also a huge advocate of Alcoholics Anonymous and other 12 step programs. He supported AA financially, encouraged anyone with a problem to participate and regularly attended throughout his nearly 35 years of sobriety. The guiding principles of AA were how John lived his everyday life.
He was also a popular and compelling speaker. He provided training for many professional organizations as well as those entering the addiction treatment field. He spoke at many recovery-focused conferences and was requested to speak in Great Britain at the House of Lords. When President George HW Bush came to Boise in 1991, John was asked to participate on a panel discussing addiction. After the formal program was over, John was the one person the President wanted to talk with privately.
John’s influence on the addiction treatment field was immense. He pushed for enhanced professionalism for interventionists and helped create a national professional organization. He also supported national organizations working on behalf of better substance use disorder treatment and was one of the best-known professionals in the field.
As busy as he was traveling the world, he was never too busy to help a friend or anyone suffering the disease of addiction. He could relate to everyone from the President to an addict who had lost everything. John survived several bouts with pneumonia and several major heart operations. As a result, he cherished every minute. He was profoundly grateful for his own recovery and used his time and remarkable talents to help others find the same gift.
Following sobriety, John was able to live life as he wished. When road-bumps arose, he dealt with them with determination and humor. He loved what he did professionally and was proud of his many accomplishments. Anyone who knew him well has many humorous stories to relate about the experience. He was a larger than life character.
John’s generosity was legendary. Not only in sharing his experience strength and hope but also in other ways. His annual weekend Christmas party became a who’s who of the treatment community from across the country.
John loved his biological family dearly, as well as his family of choice within the recovery community to whom he was a beloved mentor and friend. John’s life made a difference to thousands of people as he showed them how to live happy, joyous and free. His legacy will live on for generations.
He was preceded in death by parents, Mark and Rachel Southworth. He is survived by sisters; Mary (Keith) Carriker, Linda (Denny) Donoghue, as well as six nieces and nephews and ten great nieces and nephews. He is also survived by his loving companion, Jenny Rodriguez.
A celebration of John’s life will be held Friday November 17th at 2 PM at Alden Waggoner Chapel, 5400 W. Fairview Ave. Boise, Idaho.
In lieu of flowers John requested that contributions be made in his name to the Boise AA Central Office, TVICO, 1111 S. Orchard St. Suite 180, Boise, Idaho 83705.
Published in Idaho Statesman on Nov. 12, 2017