Lois Wilson is the founder of Al-Anon, a support group for friends and relatives of alcoholics. Lois is the wife of Alcoholics Anonymous founder Bill Wilson.
Lois was brought up in a well to do family in Brooklyn New York. Her father was a surgeon and gyneclogist. Lois attended prestigious schools. Her childhood was full of priveledge and influential friends including Abraham Lincoln's son. Lois enjoyed a nice childhood. Lois studied interior design and art during her studies at college.
Lois was the eldest of six brothers and sisters. One of her brothers "Roger" had a friend Edwin "Ebby" Thatcher who visited New York every summer. Ebby later became influential in helping her future husband Bill Wilson get sober.
Lois' brother Roger also had a friend Bill Wilson. Roger introduced Bill to Lois in 1913. Lois was four years older than Bill and did not think of him romantically. Their friendship blossomed and they became secretly engaged in 1915 and then marrying January 24, 1918.
When Lois married Bill he was an outstanding young man. Full of life, energy and vigor. Little did Lois know what she was in for. At first Bill's drinking did not alarm her but that changed fast.
Her marriage to Bill W. began to degrade due to a combination of miscarriages and his drinking problem. Bill became a broken man crippled to alcoholism. Lois tried many tactics during Bill's 17 year plunge into alcoholism. She soon realized that this did not help. In the end, the tragedy of Bill's alcoholsm and the demise of this promising couple became the beginning of one of the twentieth century’s most important social movements.
In 1951, Lois began to work on a program for families of alcoholics after Bill had gone through rehabilitation and founded AA. These efforts led to the founding of Al-Anon.
Lois died October 15, 1988 at 97 years old. Lois Wilson is one of the twentieth century's most important women for her contributions to humanity.
The autobiography book Lois Wilson - When Love Is Not Enough. is a good read on the much loved Lois. In Chapter One, the author sets the scene for a confrontation between Lois and a drunken Bill. "Every time you get drunk," Lois says, pounding him on the chest and arms, "I'm the one who feels guilty.... You can go to your bootleggers, your speakeasies. Where can I go? Tell me! Where can I go?" While Bill’s life improved, Lois’ life got more hellish when her husband insisted on bringing alcoholics home with him to dry out. “I guess I thought that once he stopped drinking, everything would go back to what it was like before, happy and loving,” she told the book's author.
AA would never have happened without Lois, because without Lois, Bill W. would not have survived,” said Karen Chernyaev, senior acquisitions editor at Hazelden. “Lois Wilson has always been sort of on the sidelines of the Twelve Step movement, so it is exciting to learn the details of her life and how she contributed so much to AA and Al-Anon and how she continues to influence Al-Anon even after her death. I really believe that Bill and Lois Wilson were meant to connect and were placed on this earth to do the important work they accomplished.”
Clean and Sober Not Dead is proud to announce Lois Wilson as their Recovery Hero for June 2008.