Dan Wakefield, Multifaceted Writer on a Spiritual Journey, Dies at 91

Dan Wakefield, Multifaceted Writer on a Spiritual Journey, Dies at 91

On Christmas Eve 1980, he attended a service at King’s Chapel, a Unitarian Universalist church in Boston (the minister was a neighbor). He became active in the church, having found himself in the presence of a “larger force or purpose or higher power I identify as God,” he wrote in “Returning.”

Mr. Wakefield charted his path back to religious faith in this 1997 memoir. Credit…Beacon Press

Mr. Wakefield lived his final years in Indianapolis. He moved back there in 2011 after living in Miami for 17 years as a writer in residence at Florida International University. He had also lived in New York, Boston, Hollywood and Venice, Calif.

In his later years, he led workshops on spirituality at churches and synagogues across the United States and at the Sing Sing Correctional Facility in Ossining, N.Y.

His marriage to Alice Jokela Stewart ended in divorce. No immediate family members survive.

Mr. Wakefield had a paternal relationship with his goddaughter, Karina Corrales, whose mother took a writing class with him in Miami after his move there. He met Ms. Corrales when she was toddler and ultimately paid for her to attend college. He had spent time with her and her husband toward the end of his life.

Asked to define his philosophy of life, Mr. Wakefield quoted Philo, the ancient philosopher of Alexandria, Egypt: “Be kind, for everyone you know is fighting a great battle.” As for his life beyond writing, reading and reflecting, he said, “No golf, no horseshoes, no stamp-collecting, no hobbies.” And, he added, “No regrets.”

David Stout, a former editor and reporter with The Times, died in 2020. Alex Traub contributed reporting.

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