Our History

Our History

Over the years, the Alcohol Problems Council of Wisconsin has advocated for abstinence from alcohol in several ways: political, educational, informational, and as a granting agency.

In the video interview below, Board Member Ray Bayley gives a brief outline of the historical work of the Council.

Our rich history includes predecessor organizations that emphasized political solutions to the problem of consumption of alcohol, such as the Anti-Saloon League. Our own organization was formed by Earnest Parish in the 1940s, as a merger of several predecessor organizations, including the Wisconsin Temperance Movement. It was first called the United Temperence Movement, and then later the Alcohol Problems Council. Up through the 1970s, our organization spoke at legislative hearings.

Shortly after the beginning of our organization, a speaker's bureau was created, which included some well-known speakers, who spoke motivationally about abstinence from alcohol. Glenn Cunningham, the fastest miler in the world, was one of those, and would speak as many as five times per day, extolling non-drinking. Speakers came to high schools and middle schools, churches and service clubs.

Classroom discussion leadership became common in the 1960s and early 70s.
A staff member would spend several days at a school. We had exhibits at teachers' conventions (at least 2 a year) and the state fair. It was an effort to educate the educators about alcohol problems. We were then the only organization educating about alcohol; now the state and schools have anti-alcohol education.

Presidents of the organization include: Frank Nelson, Charles Velte and Bill Stevens. Rev. Ray Bayley was executive director for 13 years, and on staff as educator for longer. Eno Hamara also was an educator who prepared excellent scholarly presentations. Numerous highly respected small business owners, physicians, attorneys, clergy, farmers and others contributed money and leadership.

Currently, we are trying to work more specifically with churches, since our background is that of people of faith. Using the Web, we are disseminating information about alcohol and its use and abuse. We seek to motivate faith communities to discover ways to encourage healthful, addiction-free living, instead of alcohol use. We know that we do this in Wisconsin, the state with the highest density of taverns (one drinking establishment per 419 residents – three times more taverns here than the rest of the country), the highest incidence of Binge drinking, the highest percentage of drinkers in the population, and the highest incidence of drunk-driving.

Over the years, APCW has had very strong financial supporters of the work. This has put us in a position to function as a granting agency to organizations in local communities with programs to reduce the level of drinking in Wisconsin. It has also enabled us to offer scholarships for AODA education.

Read about The Continuing Need for This Work.

Read about Future Possibilities.