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).
AA is an international mutual aid fellowship with about 2 million members worldwide belonging to approximately 10,000 groups, associations, organizations, cooperatives, and fellowships 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." In order to communicate among one another, members of "AA" will often ask those who appear to be suffering or having a relapse from alcoholism if they are "friends with Bill". Although this question can be confusing, because "Bill" is a common name, it does provide a means of establishing a rapport with those who are familiar with the saying and in need of help. After Wilson's death in 1971, and amidst much controversy within the fellowship, his full name was included in obituaries by journalists who were unaware of the significance for maintaining anonymity within the organization.Wilson's sobriety from alcohol, which he maintained until his passing, began December 11, 1934. In 1955 Wilson turned over control of AA to a board of trustees. Wilson died of emphysema complicated by pneumonia in 1971. In 1999 Time listed him as "Bill W.: The Healer" in the Time 100: The Most Important People of the Century.