Quantcast

Family eulogizes Kim Peek as an intellectual gift to others

Published: Wednesday, Dec. 30 2009 12:20 a.m. MST

Brian Peek and his wife, Elizabeth, comfort each other during graveside rites Tuesday for Kim Peek.

Michael Brandy, Deseret News

Enlarge photo»

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.

Described

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 vast

worldwide audience about disabilities and acceptance.

The Murray man died Dec. 19 of an apparent heart attack. He was 58.

Both

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."

Ultimately,

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.

Kim

sat beside Morrow during the movie's premiere, Fran Peek said.

Afterward, Morrow asked him why he never once looked at the screen.

"I

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

word-for-word.

Brian

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.

A

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."

Kim

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.

Get The Deseret News Everywhere

Subscribe

Mobile

RSS