Bill W: “To be helpful is our only aim.”
William Griffith Wilson (November 26, 1895 – January 24, 1971), also known as Bill Wilson or Bill W., was the co-founder of Alcoholics Anonymous (AA), an international mutual aid fellowship with over two million members belonging to 100,800 groups of alcoholics helping other alcoholics achieve and maintain sobriety. Following AA’s Twelfth Tradition of anonymity, Wilson is commonly known as “Bill W.” or “Bill.” After Wilson’s death in 1971, his full name was included in obituaries.
Wilson’s permanent sobriety began December 11, 1934. Wilson suffered from episodes of depression. The most serious of these occurred between 1944 and 1955. In 1955 Wilson turned over control of AA to a board of trustees. Wilson died of emphysema complicated by pneumonia 42 years ago in 1971. In 1999 Time listed him as “Bill W.: The Healer” in the Time 100: The Most Important People of the Century.