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Remembering Peter Kohn

August 6th, 2009 by Rebecca Harper Editor

This spring, the moving story of Peter Kohn made its Hulu debut on our documentary channel. Filmmaker David Gaynes shared the story of Kohn — the longtime Middlebury College lacrosse team field manager — in Keeper of the Kohn, a rich tale about this kind older man who devoted his life, both on the field and off, to helping others. We’re sad to report that Kohn passed away near his New Jersey home on August 5, at the age of 77. Last March, Hulu interviewed director Gaynes about the film and his friendship with Kohn. Upon hearing of Kohn’s death, Gaynes was also kind enough to share some last thoughts about his friend for the Hulu audience. — Rebecca Harper (rebecca.harper), Editor, Hulu

Many people today mourn the passing of Peter Kohn, a wonderful man who was hard to summarize as he was everything from a simple equipment manager to a prophet. My relationship with Peter was one of deep respect, mutual trust and enduring love. I have been interviewed a few times in the past 24 hours, I suppose because it is assumed that I knew Peter’s story well and can tell it succinctly. What these interviews do not give me the chance to express is that fact that Peter knew me incredibly well. It was the process of revealing myself to Peter that made our relationship so meaningful — so much deeper than simply the cooperation between a biographer and his subject. Today there is a piece of me missing, as all those who knew Peter can attest.

Any time a person consents to have their most private self revealed through the medium of documentary film, intimate moments will be captured on tape, synthesized in editing, and eventually revealed to an audience. I advised Peter to not take this process lightly, to appreciate what I was trying to accomplish by telling his story and to work with me as we exposed more and more people to the messages in the film. Peter, a thoughtful person throughout his life, always wanted the film to affect people in a positive way and I hope that every decision I have made for the film satisfies this noble wish. As new people experience Keeper of the Kohn, it is my great desire — and I believe Peter’s as well — that we think critically about the friendships and life experiences depicted in the work and apply those lessons to our daily lives. We are all better for having known Peter, whether we met him in waking life or in the world of moving images. — David Gaynes, Director, Keeper of the Kohn

Last comment: Jun 12th 2010 3 Comments
  • Judd says:

    Just today I watched this documentary, and it is incredible. What a testament to the value of all human life.

  • Charles Newmeyer says:

    Peter is my second cousin whom I knew pretty well when I was a kid in Baltimore in the 1960s and 70s. Unfortunately I grew up and away and only within the last couple of years had brief contact with him when I invited him to my wedding. Since then I have tried calling him in Cape May and have never been able to reach him. I visited his house, called, never got a hold of him. I left a message on his answering machine the day he passed. I truly regret not spending time with him and I did not even know of his passing until today, 8/12/09. He was a great person. For those that really knew him, you are very lucky.

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