Emmy nominated screen-
writer for My Name is Bill W.
A partner at Artists Entertainment Complex, an independent film
and talent management company that produced box office hits such as Kansas City Bomber starring
Racquel Welch; Serpico starring Al Pacino, and Dog Day Afternoon
Married to Bernadette, nine
children, 23 grandchildren
William Borchert: About My Friend Lois...
The 700 Club
MEETING A DEAR FRIEND
William Borchert met Lois Wilson, founder of Al-Anon and wife of Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) co-founder Bill Wilson, through his wife, Bernadette. Bernadette had met Lois through friends in New York. William was in the movie business at the time, and Lois' story fascinated him. It also had special meaning to him being a recovering alcoholic. He visited Lois' house, Stepping Stones, a part of which she had turned into a museum. As William went through the museum, he knew that Lois' story would make a great movie.
After talking to Lois, William had 10 hours of interview material on tape about Lois' and Bill's lives, which William saved. A few years later, when William and his wife had moved to South Carolina, William found Lois' interview tapes and went to work on the screenplay of the Hallmark Hall of Fame production of My Name is Bill W., which focused on the Wilsons' lives together and how Alcoholics Anonymous was started.
Sadly, Lois died a year before the film was completed. The other unfortunate thing was that many of the parts about Lois' story and how Al-Anon began ended up on the cutting room floor. This prompted William to write The Lois Wilson Story: When Love is not Enough to tell what the movie and many accounts of Bill Wilson and AA leave out.
WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW
William says there are several important things that people should know about Lois Wilson. Lois lived in the shadow of her husband, Bill. William says without Lois, AA wouldn't have gotten started because Bill would've probably succumbed to alcoholism.
Lois was from a well-to-do family in New York, was well educated, and had everything going for her. She looked like she had everything in life on the surface. However, after dealing with Bill's fight with alcohol for 17 years, she became angry, depressed, and unwell herself. Though she was a good Christian woman and believed that unconditional love could conquer all, reality proved that wasn't the case. Lois discovered that alcoholism is a family disease – the family of the alcoholic gets as sick as the alcoholic does and that love isn't enough in an alcoholic's recovery. Later, she found that she needed help too. Lois thought that when he would start getting better, she would be better. That wasn't the case. After Bill was sober she found she wasn't doing well and she realized that she had a problem and she, too, needed help.
She found that this was the case with other families as well. As Bill started AA, he held AA meetings at the Wilsons' home. While the alcoholics were meeting, Lois was somewhere else in the house. One day, she noticed that in front of their home during the meetings were the wives who drove their husbands to the meetings, just waiting for them. Lois then saw she was not alone. During the next AA meeting, she invited the wives into the kitchen and the beginning of Al-Anon was born. The wives started having regular meetings as the husbands had their meetings. Soon, both meetings had to be held outside of the Wilson home, in "neutral" places like schools and churches.
Lois also found that alcoholism was a spiritual illness that needed a spiritual solution. The Twelve Steps that are used in recovery groups worldwide are a spiritual solution. The main goal of recovery and for recovery to really work, the addict must be willing to give control over to God/a higher power.
The "Twelve Step Programs" that Lois developed for Al-Anon and Bill developed for Alcoholics Anonymous are among the most successful forces for good in the world today. They have saved millions of lives, restored millions of families and are the basis for more than 300 self-help groups growing around the world-from Narcotics Anonymous to Overeaters Anonymous.
Lois and Bill are heroes to recovering people worldwide and generations who credit AA and Al-Anon and the Twelve Steps with saving their lives. Like other influential heroes, they were far from perfect. The story of Lois Wilson is a poignant but not always pretty love story, and to his credit, Borchert tells this story with a straightforward candor that lets us appreciate the immense toll alcohol takes.
Lois devoted her own life to Bill and to AA/Al-Anon, working tirelessly and selflessly, so that she became not only a guiding light but also a symbol of the movement itself, its nurturing spirit, revered and beloved by all who knew her. Bill Wilson died in 1971. Lois Wilson died in 1988, at the age of 97.
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