|Birth: ||Nov. 26, 1895|
|Death: ||Jan. 24, 1971|
American businessman and visionary, best known as a co-founder of the mutual-help group Alcoholics Anonymous (AA). Together with Dr. Bob Smith, Wilson founded AA as a safe haven for those who suffered from alcoholism, and in so doing created one of the landmark organizations of modern times, which in the past 70 years has touched countless millions of lives. His wife, Lois Burnham Wilson, founded Al-Anon, a support group dedicated to the needs of the friends and families of alcoholics. His friend Aldous Huxley described Bill Wilson as "the greatest social architect of the Twentieth Century." He was born William Griffith Wilson on November 26, 1895 in the quarry town of East Dorset, Vermont. Wilson was a child of divorce. Abandoned first by his father, then by his mother, he was raised by his grandparents. After a troubled childhood, he joined the U.S. Army. It was then he discovered that alcohol reduced his nervousness in social situations and eased his periodic bouts of depression. But the comfort Wilson found in alcohol came at a high price. Married in 1918 to Lois Burnham, they toured the country on a motorcycle and appeared to be a prosperous, promising young couple. But gradually alcohol took over Wilson’s life. By 1933, the couple was living on charity with Lois’ parents in a house on Clinton Street in Brooklyn, New York. Wilson had become an unemployable drunk who disdained religion and even panhandled for cash at times. Finally, while recuperating from a drinking binge in a New York hospital, he was inspired to help others caught in a similar situation as a means of helping himself. This became the central concept for Alcoholics Anonymous, which Wilson founded in 1935 with fellow alcoholic Dr. Robert Smith, based on the principle that only an alcoholic can help another alcoholic. The group was an immediate success on a small scale, but in 1940 they gained important financial support from John D. Rockefeller Jr. and then in 1941, when “The Saturday Evening Post” ran an article on the group, membership really took off in a big way. As the movement grew rapidly, Wilson and the AA fellowship came to a mutual decision to decrease his personal involvement in accordance with the AA tradition that principles come before personalities. He refused numerous honors during his life, including an honorary degree from Yale University, and declined offers to have his face on the covers of national magazines such as “Time.” A chronic smoker, Wilson died of emphysema and pneumonia on January 24, 1971 in Miami, Florida. Bill Wilson's story and his eventual founding of AA has been dramatized as a TV movie called “My Name is Bill W.” starring James Woods and James Garner. The phrase "Friends of Bill W." is sometimes used as a code of recognition among members of Alcoholics Anonymous. Today millions of AA members hold meetings worldwide in church basements, hospital conference rooms and school gyms, following Wilson's informal structure. Members identify themselves as alcoholics and share their stories; there are no rules, no dues or entry requirements, and many members use only first names. (bio by: Edward Parsons)
Gilman B Wilson (1870 - 1954)
Emily Wilson Griffith Strobell (1870 - 1961)
Lois Burnham Wilson (1891 - 1988)
East Dorset Cemetery
Maintained by: Find A Grave
Record added: Jan 01, 2001
Find A Grave Memorial# 2535
Just a few hours ago, my husband told me: He is going to join OA and the YMCA, as I have done. I've been praying for this! Together, we will conquer the addiction and lose the weight! I needed his doing both with me, so much, for both our sakes! THAT ...(Read more)|
My Name Is Anne B.
Added: Oct. 22, 2014
White...for the purity of your beautiful soul, that longed to be free of addiction and founded, with your dear friend, THE CURE for it! I made a victory, then a slip, last night. Proof of my needing OA, always! Also, I'm leading the group, not tomorrow...(Read more)|
My Name Is Anne B.
Added: Oct. 21, 2014
The meeting was SUPER, tonight! I felt like this swan, feeling very loved, very guided into great health, self love and beauty. For the FIRST TIME IN AGES: I ate PROPERLY, afterwards, at our frequent restaurant! Of course, it was difficult...but the m...(Read more)|
My Name Is Anne B.
Added: Oct. 8, 2014
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