During the last years of his life, Wilson rarely attended AA meetings to avoid being asked to speak as the co-founder rather than as an alcoholic. A heavy smoker, Wilson eventually suffered from emphysema and later pneumonia. He continued to smoke while dependent on an oxygen tank in the late 1960s. He drank no alcohol for the final 37 years of his life; however, in the last days of his life he made demands for whiskey and became belligerent when refused. During this period, Wilson was visited by colleagues and friends who wanted to say goodbye. Wilson died of emphysema and pneumonia on January 24, 1971, en route to treatment in Miami, Florida. He is buried in East Dorset, Vermont.