So he stayed, receiving his bachelor’s degree in 1970, his master’s in 1972, and his doctorate in 1974, all from Michigan State University.
Teaching first at Trinity University in San Antonio, Dr. Wegner met Gilbert, who was teaching at the University of Texas. “I guess you shouldn’t refer to someone as your best friend after the age of 10,” Gilbert said, “but he was mine.”
Dr. Wegner also met Toni Giuliano. They were a couple for 35 years and married in 1984.
He joined the faculty of the University of Virginia in 1990, and a decade later moved to Harvard, where he was the John Lindsley professor of psychology in memory of William James.
When he died, Dr. Wegner was coauthoring final research with Kurt Gray, an assistant professor of psychology at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
“The funny thing about Dan is you never knew where conversations would end up,” said Gray, a frequent collaborator whose doctoral work Dr. Wegner supervised. “Every conversation with him was like a journey, and it was exciting to see where it was going to go.”
In addition to his wife, Dr. Wegner leaves his daughters, Kelsey Wegner Hurlburt of Dunkirk, Md., and Haley of Winchester.
Family and friends will gather to celebrate his life and career at 4 p.m. Saturday in the Winchester Unitarian Society in Winchester. Dr. Wegner hoped that those who attend will wear Hawaiian shirts.
He requested that his body be donated to the Neurological Clinical Research Institute at Massachusetts General Hospital for ALS research.
Diagnosed in fall 2010, Dr. Wegner was “never depressed,” his wife said. “He just was always just so positive and kept doing his work. I swear we had a party for three years. We had houseguests nonstop. He was having fun up until the very end.”
Visitors found that ALS dulled neither his mind nor his lightning wit.
“This is a guy who, even at the very end of his life, was still trying to bring me to my knees with laughter,” Gilbert said. “I think we trivialize being funny and think of it as a cute talent. I disagree. Humor is the place where brilliance and joy meet. Dan Wegner did both. He combined them. That’s a remarkable talent, to my mind.”
Bryan Marquard can be reached at email@example.com.