March 15, 2024

Dan Wakefield, accomplished writer and Indianapolis son, passes away at 91

Wakefield wrote two best-selling novels in the 1970’s, "Going All the Way" and "Starting Over."  - File Photo

Wakefield wrote two best-selling novels in the 1970’s, "Going All the Way" and "Starting Over."

File Photo

Author and writer Dan Wakefield passed away this week in Indianapolis. Wakefield was 91 years old and spent his final years in the city where he was born and raised.

His writing career started at Shortridge High School where he was on the sports beat at the school newspaper. He left Indianapolis in 1952 and then graduated from Columbia College.

As a journalist in New York, he traveled to Mississippi to cover the Emmett Till trial. He continued to work as a reporter and then started writing columns as his literary career took off. 

Wakefield wrote two best-selling novels in the 1970s, "Going All the Way" and "Starting Over." 
"Going All the Way" depicts life in Indianapolis in the 1950s. Will Higgins interviewed Wakefield for WFYI in 2016 when he said the book’s secret was an honest depiction of life.

“I decided to myself, I don't want to write the way that people were supposed to talk or the way they were supposed to behave. I want to write the way they really talk and they really behave,” he said.

Wakefield credits his longtime friend Kurt Vonnegut’s review of the book for its initial success. It was later made into a movie starring Ben Affleck. Wakefield wrote that screenplay and a number of others for film and television.

He spoke with WFYI in 2013 and reminisced about his first time back to the city after many years away. An Indianapolis librarian had asked if he would come home to give a talk. 

“I said ‘I can't come to Indianapolis. People hate me because of ‘Going All the Way,’” Wakefield said.

The librarian assured him that wasn’t true. He would continue to visit before eventually moving back to Indianapolis.

In recent years Wakefield spent time teaching, lecturing and imparting his wisdom to local organizations.

Contact WFYI city government and policy reporter Jill Sheridan at jsheridan@wfyi.org.
 

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