When Dr. Wayne Dyer passed away on late August 29 or early August 30, the news of his death spread like wildfire on social media. However, most of the major news coverage went to the death of horror movie director Wes Craven, who also died over the weekend. Hay House Publishers provided this obituary, so you can learn more about the remarkable life and contributions of Wayne Dyer.
(Update 9.10.15 – Wayne Dyer’s close family held a private memorial service for him in Hawaii last Thursday, September 3)
Wayne W. Dyer, Ph.D., was an internationally renowned author and speaker in the field of self-development and spiritual growth. Over the span of his four-decade career, he wrote 42 books, 21 of which became New York Times bestsellers, and this wide readership earned him the affectionate nickname of “the father of motivation” among his fans.
Dr. Dyer’s message reached across all markets, generations, and cultures. Even though the self-help industry has seen many new thought leaders emerge in recent years, Dr. Dyer continued to be a pioneer in this ever-expanding field up until his passing.
Born and raised in Detroit, Michigan, Dr. Dyer earned his doctorate in educational counseling from Wayne State University before serving as a professor at St. John’s University in New York. Through his early work as a college educator, and as a clinical psychologist, he discovered the need to make the principles of self-discovery and personal growth available to the general public.
In 1976 he began his career as an author by traveling the country selling his first book, Your Erroneous Zones, from the trunk of his car—a book that went on to become one of the best-selling books of all time, with more than 60 million copies sold, printings in 47 languages, and 64 weeks spent on the New York Times bestseller list. Its success landed Dr. Dyer on The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson—a dream of Dr. Dyer’s since childhood—a total of 37 times.
After publishing a string of best-selling books on the practical psychology of self-improvement, Dr. Dyer felt a shift in his thinking that led him to explore the spiritual aspects of human experience. “My purpose is to help people look at themselves and begin to shift their concepts,” Dr. Dyer said at the time. “Remember, we are not our country, our race, or religion. We are eternal spirits. Seeing ourselves as spiritual beings without label is a way to transform the world and reach a sacred place for all of humanity.”
In 1993, Dr. Dyer began publishing books with Hay House and quickly became one of the cornerstones of the company. “Wayne and I spoke on the phone every day,” said Reid Tracy, President and CEO of Hay House, Inc. “I will forever cherish our conversations. We began as publisher and author, and that relationship blossomed into a great friendship. That’s no surprise, since Wayne was always ready to connect on a deeper level with everyone he met. Hay House would not have become what it is today without Dr. Wayne Dyer, and we are forever grateful and proud to be the stewards of his legacy. We will do everything we can to share his work with the people who can most benefit from it. That’s what he would have wanted most.”
Dr. Dyer created several audio programs and videos, and appeared on thousands of television and radio shows over the course of his career. His books Manifest Your Destiny, Wisdom of the Ages, There’s a Spiritual Solution to Every Problem, and the New York Times bestsellers 10 Secrets for Success and Inner Peace, The Power of Intention, Inspiration, Change Your Thoughts—Change Your Life, Excuses Begone!, Wishes Fulfilled, and I Can See Clearly Now have all been featured as PBS specials, raising over $200 million for public television stations nationwide and making Dr. Dyer one of PBS’s most successful fund-raisers. This philanthropic spirit was intrinsic to Dr. Dyer, as illustrated by his charitable contributions to his alma mater, Wayne State University, which totaled more than $1 million.
Dr. Dyer’s first feature film, The Shift, was released in 2009, followed in 2012 by the autobiographical film, My Greatest Teacher. The second film dramatized a defining moment in Dyer’s life, when he had visited the grave of his father, who had abandoned him as a young boy. While the intention that day had been to exact some form of vengeance on the man Dyer felt had sent him down a dark path of rage and alcoholism, at the gravesite Dr. Dyer was overcome by inexplicable feelings of love and forgiveness. He credited this experience with changing the trajectory of his life. The date of this experience was August 30, 1974. On the exact same day, 41 years later, Dr. Dyer passed on.
Beyond this formative experience with his father, Dr. Dyer counted among his teachers St. Francis of Assisi, Lao Tzu, Rumi, Carl Jung, and Abraham Maslow. And Dr. Dyer himself acted as a teacher and mentor to emerging authors in his field, such as Anita Moorjani, Scarlett Lewis, and Dana Liesegang.
Despite a childhood spent in orphanages and foster homes, Dr. Dyer made his dreams come true. He lived to teach others to overcome their perceived limits and engage in their “Highest Self.”
“I realize I was this little kid that was just born into the situation that I was born into,” Dr. Dyer said while reflecting on the publication of his 2014 book I Can See Clearly Now. “But as I look back on all of these things and all of these books that have come out of it and the movies that we’ve done and the millions of millions of people who’ve been touched all over the world, I look back and I see that I was in some kind of training since I was a little boy. It’s like these experiences are all gifts, and that’s how you have to look at it.”
Just before his passing, Dr. Dyer had returned from Australia and New Zealand, where he lectured in front of thousands of people. As a father to eight children and nine grandchildren, he was back home in Maui looking forward to spending time with his family, while gearing up for the launch of his upcoming book, Memories of Heaven: Children’s Astounding Recollections of the Time Before They Came to Earth.
Although he was public with his struggle with leukemia, Dr. Dyer was the healthiest he had been in years, keeping a very active schedule. His death has officially been attributed to heart failure.
In lieu of flowers, Dr. Dyer’s family would like to encourage those wanting to show support, to make a donation in Wayne’s name to one of the following causes he was passionate about: gun safety, non-GMO foods, and education. Please see below for a list of charities he supported.
- Guns: Everytown for Gun Safety
“He was a strong believer in making guns harder to get, thereby improving the safety of our nation. When he met Scarlett Lewis and heard her son Jesse’s story from Sandy Hook, he was moved to tears and wanted to help tell Jesse’s story in the hope that it would make a difference. If he can do anything from the other side, my guess is he is whispering in the ears of Congress and reminding them to vote with a conscience.” – Tracy Dyer
- Non GMO: JustLabelit.org
“Anyone who attended one of his talks or spent more than 10 minutes with him, knew how passionate he was about the Genetic Modification of our food supply. He always believed in keeping things simple and food was probably the biggest example of this. Just grow real food and eat it.” – Tracy Dyer
- Education: Wayne State University
“Education was also one of his biggest passions. He was forever grateful to Wayne State University for taking a chance on an inner-city kid who came out of the Navy with a dream to make his life better. As a father, he always told us that as long as we were working toward something, he would always help us fund our educations and that was no small task, with 8 kids.” – Tracy Dyer