TAYLORSVILLE, Utah — Kim Peek was a man with many unusual gifts and challenges.
In the last two decades of his life, Kim became a gift to others that his family was initially reluctant to share.
once as the "most prodigious intellectual mega-savant in the world,"
Kim Peek was eulogized Tuesday not only as the inspiration for the
title character in the hit movie "Rain Man" — a role for which Dustin
Hoffman won an Oscar — but for Kim's own role in teaching a vastworldwide audience about disabilities and acceptance.
The Murray man died Dec. 19 of an apparent heart attack. He was 58.
Fran Peek, Kim's father, and Brian Peek, his brother, described initial
reluctance to have Kim publicly identified with the 1988 film that
swept the Oscars for Best Picture, Best Actor, Best Director and Best
Original Screenplay. His brother thought it a massive invasion of the
family's privacy. Fran Peek first said no because of Kim's severe
mental disability: "I won't let them put him on display and hurt him."
though, Kim became a celebrity in many circles because of his gentle
soul and his massive intellect in more than 15 diverse areas, from
music and sports to math and history. He was so complex, in fact, that
while Barry Morrow's screenplay was inspired by Kim, Hoffman also
studied other savants, his father told mourners at his funeral at the
Taylorsville LDS Stake Center.
sat beside Morrow during the movie's premiere, Fran Peek said.
Afterward, Morrow asked him why he never once looked at the screen.
watched it with my heart," Kim replied. And evidently memorized it, as
well, along with his beloved Bible, the Book of Mormon, the Doctrine
and Covenants and thousands of other books he could recite
Peek reminisced about an older brother who was reading from the Old
Testament as a toddler — "He taught himself to read when he was about
3" — but who required constant supervision and help. Kim blossomed
under the attention he received as "Rain Man."
He traveled nearly 3 million air miles and spoke with nearly 60 million people.
"I am so glad he got to express himself and take his message to people," Brian Peek said.
letter from the First Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of
Latter-day Saints, read by Bishop James A. Sterzer, noted that "Kim's
charm and wit will be greatly missed," and he was hailed by church
leaders as "an influence for good in the lives of many."
Peek loved lists, so it was fitting that the back page of the program
had a list of things he loved. Among them: family, little children,
friends, Shakespeare, music, Reader's Digest books, LDS General
Conference, reminiscing, phone directories, sausage rolls, funny songs
and riddles, and Mom's textbooks.
He's also survived by his mother, Jeanne Willey Peek Buchi, and his sister, Alison Peek.