Biography of Bill Wilson
Co-founder of Alcoholics Anonymous
Alcohol has been abused and been problematic in the history of the world. Before Alcoholics Anonymous it was believed that alcoholism and addiction was a mental illness and failure of willpower (Cheever 253). There was never any real hope for alcoholics till Bill Wilson discovered that one alcoholic simply talking to another alcoholic could help them both stay sober. This soon became a self help program that now has over a hundred thousand groups and over two million members worldwide. Bill Wilson’s program became what we know today as Alcoholics Anonymous or simply A.A.. Bill Wilson wrote the book, Alcoholics Anonymous: The ...view middle of the document...
Bill went to Burr and Burton Academy in Manchester Vermont and did very well. By his senior year he was class president and captain of the football team (Cheever 50-51).
Bill suffered from serious depression several times in his life. One of the those times was when his first love Bertha Bamford died due to complications from surgery when he was only seventeen years old. Bertha was a beautiful, brainy classmate and daughter of an Episcopal Minister. Her family really liked Bill. They seemed to be soulmates, and when she died it devastated him (Raphael 29).
About a year later Bill met Lois Burnham in the summer of 1913 at Emerald Lake where her family spent the summer. Lois was a beautiful, well educated daughter of a wealthy New York physician. Lois was four years older than Bill and they did not start dating till a few years after they met. They eventually fell deeply in love and were engaged two years later (Raphael 36-37).
Bill graduated High School and attended Norwich University, a military academy, not far from home. Norwich prepared him well for World War I. He left before graduation to join Coast Artillery in 1917 where he advanced through training and was commissioned as second lieutenant. Shortly before Bill left for duty overseas, he married Lois in the Swedenborgen Church in Brooklyn Heights New York on January 24th, 1918.(Cheever 80-81)
Bills first drink, was in 1917 while stationed in New Bedford Massachusetts. Many of the locals opened their houses to the young officers who were soon going to fight abroad. One Sunday he went to a dinner party with his commanding officer. There were wealthy and sophisticated women who were drinking and smoking. Bill always said he would not drink but at the dinner table there was beer at every place setting, and Bill felt that the polite thing to do was to drink the beer. The drink seemed harmless and didn’t lead to anything bad. A few weeks later he went to yet another dinner party, and thought the previous beer caused no harm so he drank again. This time it wasn’t beer; it was a Bronx cocktail that someone placed in his hand. Unlike the beer, the Bronx cocktail tasted good to Bill, and he drank it down rather fast. Then he had a second one, and after that he felt as if he now fit in with the high society crowd around him. He laughed and relaxed and told stories, and everyone laughed with him. Bill later wrote “I had found the elixir of life” (Cheever 73-75).
Nobody really noticed Bill’s drinking; he just seemed like a happy man. He would take a drink or few whenever they were offered. After being married, Bill and Lois took an apartment in New Bedford. They had dinner parties where cocktails were served and they went out often. Bill always drank. He was the life of the party and often passed out from too much alcohol. Lois always acted as if everything was wonderful even if it wasn’t (Cheever 82-83). The following spring Bill was shipped out to Great Britain where he continued drinking.