Yalcin Mehmet Peker was a true adventurer, travelling to all seven continents and almost 100 countries. He rafted through the Grand Canyon, climbed a portion of Mount Everest, observed the volcanos of Iceland, voyaged along the Norwegian coast, cruised the rivers of the Amazon, traced the path of the Maya in South America and watched wild animals on African safaris.
Peker was born in Istanbul to the former prime minister of Turkey, Recep Peker and Suada Bulak. He received a liberal arts education at Robert College in Istanbul and a degree in textile engineering from Huddersfield Technical College in the U.K. His engineering education continued at Georgia Tech, where Peker gained U.S. citizenship in Atlanta in 1963.
“His education and wanderings brought him to Atlanta, a meandering path which enhanced an already existing passion for travel,” said his son, George Peker of Atlanta.
Peker, of Stone Mountain, died of lung cancer at Park Springs Retirement Community on December 10th. He was 82. A memorial service will be held at the Community Hall at Park Springs Retirement Community on Saturday at 2 p.m. Wages and Sons Funeral Homes and Crematories is in charge of the arrangements.
After leaving his studies at Georgia Tech, Peker began working for Southern Electrical Equipment Distributers. “He was a popular man whose employees loved him. He took care of people,” recalled his daughter, Emily Peker of Atlanta. After leaving the company, Peker took his first wife, Madelyn McIntosh, and their two children on a vacation across Europe.
“He was a wonderful and hard-working father with a kind and quiet soul,” said his daughter. “He was very cool, too,” said his son, “He was an even-keeled, truth-obsessed man who was one of the most entertaining people to talk to that I have ever met.”
Peker then moved to Electromagnetic Sciences, where he was a programs coordinator designing communication devices for space satellites. Later, he was a financial manager at Georgia Tech Research Institute, from which he retired in 1993.
After the death of his first wife, Peker married Martha Ann Stegar of Stone Mountain in 1992. The two travelled the world together. “We were both interested in beautiful, natural places,” said his wife. When not abroad, the pair were docents at Zoo Atlanta. “He could tell wonderful stories about the animals, especially the gorillas,” she said.
The couple also volunteered at the Fernbank Museum of Natural History in Atlanta. His wife recalled Peker’s first day working at one exhibit. “The night before, he went to the library and studied all the dinosaurs for hours, because he was afraid some little boy would show up to the exhibit knowing more than he did,” she said.
In addition to his wife, daughter and son, Peker is survived by his stepdaughters, Lyn Deadmore of Atlanta and Lisa Sipp of Peñasco, N.M., and several grandchildren and great-grandchildren.