Val Patterson, of Salt Lake City, Utah, had a full life: his obituary in The Salt Lake Tribune identifies him as a “true Scientist” as well an “auto mechanic, wood worker, artist, inventor, business man, ribald comedian, husband, brother, son, cat lover, cynic.” And if all that sounds fairly generous, well, it should be: after all, he wrote it himself. Patterson died July 10 of throat cancer, but before he went — besides expressing his a heartfelt love for his wife, Mary Jane—he had a few things to get off his chest.
“Now that I have gone to my reward, I have confessions and things I should now say,” he wrote, in an obituary that became so popular it crashed the Starks Funeral Home website. “As it turns out, I AM the guy who stole the safe from the Motor View Drive Inn back in June 1971.” Also, he didn’t actually have a doctorate from the University of Utah:
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.
He apologized to the “electronic engineers” he worked with, while reminding them his designs always “worked very well and were well engineered”
And as for that “really mean park ranger,” well, Patterson really was the culprit who ruined his geyser by rolling rocks into it. And hey, you folks at Disneyland and SeaWorld: you no longer need to ban him for life, as he’s no longer a problem.
For whatever Val’s admissions are worth (his wife tells a local television station they are all true), one thing comes out strong in his letter to readers: He loved his wife and wished for more time with her. At least that’s something worth admitting.