He was also the executive officer and controlling shareholder of the family-owned Wirtz Corporation.
As owner of the Blackhawks, Bill had a reputation for stubbornness and frugality, earning the nickname "Dollar" Bill.
He was vilified by Blackhawks fans for forbidding home games to be televised unless they were picked up by national broadcasters, which only happened when the Blackhawks made the playoffs. As Bill explained it, broadcasting regular-season home games was unfair to season-ticket holders.
For a short time during the 1991-92 and 1992-93 seasons, Bill introduced Hawkvision, a pay-per-view service that operated in conjunction with Chicago's local SportsChannel outfit, which cost $29.95 per month and broadcast Blackhawks home games.
Bill was also blamed for allowing Bobby Hull to leave the Blackhawks and the NHL for the World Hockey Association (although his father, Arthur Wirtz, was actually responsible for that decision).
He was further blamed for the loss of both Dominik Hasek and Ed Belfour, for trading Denis Savard in 1990, for the trade of Chris Chelios to Detroit (in actuality, Chelios had asked to be traded and gave approval to then-General Manager Bob Murray when told Detroit was the most interested team), for the trading of Jeremy Roenick and for the 1967 trade of Phil Esposito.
Bill was also to blame for the Blackhawks' Stanley Cup drought, which was the second longest in NHL history and the longest in team history. Under his ownership, the Chicago Blackhawks were named by ESPN in 2004 as the worst franchise in sports.
In 2002, ESPN ranked him as the third greediest owner in all of sports.
In spite of his vocal critics, Bill was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1977 and the United States Hockey Hall of Fame in 1985.
In 1993, he established Blackhawk Charities which has donated millions of dollars to the Boys and Girls Clubs and the Amateur Hockey Association of Illinois (among other groups).
He also served on the Olympic Committees for both the 1980 and 1984 Winter Olympics.
On September 27, 2007, Bill died from cancer at the age of 77. His son, Peter was named the new owner of the Blackhawks, but Peter later passed the responsibility to his brother Rocky Wirtz.