Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Memorials to Bill W, Co-Founder of AA

Traveling through Vermont, we were searching out the headstone memorializing Bill Wilson, co-founder of AA. East Dorset, Vermont, we were told, but East Dorset has no cemetery of their own – it is Dorset Vermont. We found it on Mad Tom Road, off of US 7, heading north from Bennington to Burlington.

“Look five markers from the dead tree stump, you know, where the oak was felled on the right side of the cemetery,” we were told. Five markers - we would have had no problem if we had found the stump, but we searched that bit of ground from corner to corner, and while we found roots we found no stump.

We searched instead for names. Bill is not the only Wilson in that graveyard. Were the other Wilsons relatives? Fred, my husband, found Bill’s marker, distinguished only by the flag honoring Bill’s service in World War One. By the headstone is a cup where people had left their anniversary tokens, or written notes of gratitude for their sobriety. Someone had placed a simple small bouquet on the grave the day we were there.

Down the road we came to the village of East Dorset. The home where Bill W was born is identified by an historic marker, and is now a bed and breakfast where meetings are held for various 12 step recovery programs on a continuing basis. Bill was born, ironically, behind the bar at this house, but was raised by his grandparents at the Griffith House across the street.

At the rear of the house is the meeting room. Furnished with memorabilia from the various places the Wilsons had lived, it is a simple room with wooden beams, on which people have nailed personalized license plates honoring Bill W’s legacy.
For information and rates for the Wilson House B&B, visit www.wilsonhouse.org.

Dr. Bob, the other AA co-founder, was born in St. Johnsbury in the northeastern part of Vermont. We were told that his birthplace had also been purchased and is being renovated.