Val Patterson's obituary begins like many others. The cancer victim began by thanking his loving family and explaining his love for life, before stating that he lived by several mottoes.
This is where the reader gets the first impression that Patterson's obituary might not be like the rest-- the man's first motto was "anything for a laugh," the second was, "if you break it, I can fix it," and his requirements for a job were: "1 - All glory, 2 - Top pay, 3 - No work."
After that, Patterson reveals a litany of mischievous deeds dating back decades-- including that he never actually earned his doctorate!
While no one is encouraging theft or deception, the Huffington Post describes the man in somewhat overly-harsh terms.
"The family and friends of Val Patterson, it turns out, had a thief with bogus academic credentials on their hands," HuffPo begins. "The obituary, rife with grammatical errors, was published in the Salt Lake Tribune."
Here's the second paragraph of Patterson's first-person obituary:
...I have confessions and things I should now say. As it turns out, I AM the guy who stole the safe from the Motor View Drive Inn back in June, 1971. I could have left that unsaid, but I wanted to get it off my chest. Also, I really am NOT a PhD. What happened was that the day I went to pay off my college student loan at the U of U, the girl working there put my receipt into the wrong stack, and two weeks later, a PhD diploma came in the mail. I didn't even graduate, I only had about 3 years of college credit. In fact, I never did even learn what the letters "PhD" even stood for. For all of the Electronic Engineers I have worked with, I'm sorry, but you have to admit my designs always worked very well, and were well engineered, and I always made you laugh at work. Now to that really mean Park Ranger; after all, it was me that rolled those rocks into your geyser and ruined it. I did notice a few years later that you did get Old Faithful working again. To Disneyland - you can now throw away that "Banned for Life" file you have on me, I'm not a problem anymore - and SeaWorld San Diego, too, if you read this. [Emphasis added]
To the "gang," he says: "We grew up in the very best time to grow up in the history of America. The best music, muscle cars, cheap gas, fun kegs, buying a car for 'a buck a year.'"
He continued: "TV was boring back then, so we went outside and actually had lives. We always tried to have as much fun as possible without doing harm to anybody - we did a good job at that."
Patterson concludes with his life's only regret:
My regret is that I felt invincible when young and smoked cigarettes when I knew they were bad for me. Now, to make it worse, I have robbed my beloved Mary Jane of a decade or more of the two of us growing old together and laughing at all the thousands of simple things that we have come to enjoy and fill our lives with such happy words and moments. My pain is enormous, but it pales in comparison to watching my wife feel my pain as she lovingly cares for and comforts me. I feel such the "thief" now - for stealing so much from her - there is no pill I can take to erase that pain.
If you knew me, remember me in your own way. If you want to live forever, then don't stop breathing, like I did.
Mary Jane, Patterson's wife of 33 years, confirmed for KSL that everything her husband said was true, to the best of her knowledge.
While one Huffington Post commenter remarked: "It sounds like he should have spent his last years in jail to me," Arlene Navo of Texas said: "It made me laugh, it made me cry, and it made me appreciate my life and all the opportunity that it offers a bit more . . . Thank you."