December 22, 2009

Kim Peek

I first met Kim Peek during the early 1990s, while we were traveling on a shuttle to the same conference on the west coast. I recognized Kim immediately for his involvement in the film Rain Man. I had a very limited, highly peripheral connection with that film in 1988, and Kim had received a lot of national press for his inspiration to the central character of that movie.

He was a rock star to me.

I greeted him, expecting only a brief and polite exchange. After "hello," however, Kim asked: "What zip code do you live in?" When I answered, he smiled and said: "That's Huntington, West Virginia." He was charming, and we talked for most of the trip to the conference center.

Kim Peek died on December 19, 2009 from a heart attack. His contribution to the understanding of savant skills has been invaluable to the research community. Missed more, however, will be Kim's personality. His humor, wit and charm were endearing.

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