By all accounts, J. William “Bill” Hood was the epitome of the American dream. In 1974, after 27 years with the Aluminum Company of America, he had worked his way up the corporate ladder from production engineer to upper management, overseeing profits and losses of $100 million in annual revenues for the world’s largest non-ferrous facility implementing new manufacturing plants across the country and throughout the world.
Those closest to him, however, saw a different side of the successful corporate executive — something he kept hidden from friends and co-workers for years and denied even to himself: Bill Hood was an alcoholic.
At home, Bill was like so many other addicts and alcoholics — apart from instead of a part of, retreating into a bottle and his own interior despair. His wife and four children were desperate and watched as Bill’s successful career path was derailed, until his wife, Jean, decided to move to Tennessee to seek the support of her family. It was a dark time, as his son John W. Hood III remembers: “Dad and his vodka bottle were the last things to be moved out of the house. We weren’t sure if he was coming or not.”
By 1979, Bill was a low-bottom, homebound alcoholic who faced two possible futures: death or sobriety. He entered treatment, and fortunately for him, his family and those who would benefit from the renewed passion he discovered late in life, he chose the latter. He took to sobriety with a zeal that made him so successful as a businessman, volunteering his time at a local treatment center and discovering that his personal experience as a recovering alcoholic made it easy for fellow alcoholics and addicts to relate to him.
Soon thereafter, he was hired as a full-time member of the center’s staff, remaining there until 1989, when he took a step out on faith and, at the age of 65, stepped out to open his own facility. Mortgaging his home and putting his life savings on the line, he founded Cornerstone of Recovery, a comprehensive residential treatment center founded on the principles of recovery and sobriety that had given Bill his life, his family and his sanity back.
He was a driving force in Cornerstone’s early years, often keeping the doors open by dipping into his personal funds and through sheer force of will. It was a great blow to Cornerstone and the local recovery community when Bill Hood died suddenly in October 1993, but by that time, the facility he so lovingly founded was on solid footing. A group of dedicated employees and family members vowed to carry on his legacy, and with Bill’s old friend and long-time co-worker Dan Caldwell at the helm, Cornerstone has gone from 22 residential beds and 18 staff members to 88 beds and almost 200 employees.
“Dad would be so amazed and proud to see what Cornerstone has become today,” says his son John. “I know he dreamed big, but I don’t think he could have ever imagined the difference his dream has made in the lives of so many over the years.”