Meet Wheeling, WV Cast Member William!

I was born in the old North Wheeling Hospital on January 26th, 1929.  Fortunately, it was into a very active and loving family consisting of Mom and Dad, two older sisters, Kathleen and Betty, and a younger brother Jim.  We had a lovely home life that revolved around Saint Michael’s Church, where I walked to grade school.  Afterward, I went into town to high school at the all-boys Central Catholic on Byron Street.  I spent a year at St. Francis Prep to make up French II and Chemistry, the two classes from which I was thrown out for bad conduct, so that I could attend Notre Dame, where my Dad went and from which I graduated in 1951.

I then enlisted in The United States Air Force where I applied and was accepted in Officers Candidate School and was commissioned a Second Lieutenant.  I was stationed in the territory of Alaska for two years as the Squadron Adjutant for the 720th Fighter Bomber Squadron.  After 5 ½ years in the Air Force, I returned home.

I married Mary Ann Hess of Wheeling in 1952, and we had six children.  The second, a son, was born in Alaska after a harrowing 26-mile chase to a hospital in a “meat wagon” ambulance with the big red cross painted on the side.  The other children were all born in Wheeling.  We lived an idyllic life in the Woodsdale section of Wheeling after the Air Force.

After returning to Wheeling, I entered the brokerage business as a “Customer’s Man” buying and selling stocks and bonds for clients.  I worked for Westheimer & Co., a Cincinnati house, Harold Bache & Sons, a New York wire house and A.E. Masten of Pittsburgh which was bought out by Legg Mason & Co when the consolidation of the brokerage houses began.

In 1969, I was interviewed and hired as the Investment Officer for the Trust Department of the old, now gone, Security National Bank and Trust Co. on Market Street.

In 1971, I was asked to resign.  I, then, entered a 28-day rehabilitation program for alcoholism at Chit Chat Farm, now known as Caron Foundation.  Getting fired probably saved my life.  I was divorced by Mary Ann in 1983.

I sold Real Estate for Wheeling Dollar Savings and Trust Co., having been hired by Bill Buch, to whom I will always be grateful.

I returned to the brokerage business with A.E. Masten in 1981 and worked there until 1987 when I joined the Peace Corps.

Susan Nelson Nee Cox came into my life in the 1980s at a pig roast to which my daughter invited me.  A real beauty with personality and brains and a generation younger than I.  We married in 1986.  I am still wondering what she sees in me.

We went to Benin, West Africa as Peace Corps volunteers, where we lived and worked for three years.  Upon our return home, I went to work for Northern Panhandle Behavioral Health Systems in Wheeling as Director of Development until I retired in 1998.

Since then I have served on the Boards of three commercial companies, a local University and presently continue to serve on the Board of the Schenk Foundation.

I enjoyed playing tennis until last year.  I derive a lot of pleasure from sketching people, writing short stories of what I remember of “the good ol’ days” and staying involved with my neighbors throughout Wheeling.

My life, that is my second life of sobriety, is an undeserved gift from the God of my understanding.  So far, it has been rich, interesting, and joyous, giving me strength to get through the rough patches, like the loss of two of my children.  This is because of the tools I have been given by my support group and the many friends, wet and dry, who have given me of themselves.  Of, and of course, I carry the luck of the Irish.

“We are all interdependent.” Thomas Merton

“God never made two people alike, and if He had, one of them wouldn’t be necessary.” Eddy H. Alcoholics Anonymous meeting.

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Please share this post with friends and family in the Wheeling, WV area. We're all affected by mental health and addiction issues, and the more we can support each other, the easier it will be for people to seek help. This Is My Brave is proof that Storytelling Saves Lives.