SALT LAKE CITY (RNN) - When Val Patterson, Ph. D., died last week, he left behind some stunning admissions. Like he was never a Ph. D. to begin with.
And, oh yeah, that safe that went missing at the Motor View Drive Inn in 1971? He took it.
These beyond the grave confessions came in a self-penned obituary published in the Salt Lake City Tribune after his death from throat cancer on July 10.
"I could have left that unsaid, but I wanted to get it off my chest," he wrote.
As for those three erroneously assigned letters that followed his name throughout life? It was all a mix-up that never got corrected.
"What happened was that the day I went to pay off my college student loan at the [University of Utah], the girl working there put my receipt in the wrong stack, and two weeks later, a Ph. D. diploma came in the mail. I didn't even graduate, I only had about three years of college credit," he confessed, saying he didn't know what "Ph. D." even stood for.
But, to his fellow engineers just now finding out the truth, he added, "I'm sorry, but you have to admit my designs always worked very well and were well-engineered."
The confessions don't stop there. Patterson had a few more to make, one to a "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."
And he tells Disneyland and SeaWorld San Diego they can finally throw away their "banned for life" file on him.
Patterson says he enjoyed a good life and "traveled to every place on Earth that I ever wanted to go. Had every job I wanted to have. Learned all that I wanted to learn. Fixed everything I wanted to fix. Eaten everything I wanted to eat."
All the pranks end, though, when it comes to his love for his wife, Mary Jane, "the one special thing that made my spirit whole."
He speaks tenderly of their life together and says his only regret is not having more time.
"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 Mary Jane of a decade or more of the two of us growing old together and laughing at the thousands of simple things we have come to enjoy and fill our lives with such happy words and moments," he wrote.
The funeral home's website crashed from the traffic flocking to his both poignant and light-hearted obituary. Starks Funeral Home says it received 100,000 hits per minute this week from the obituary gone viral.
Patterson's final piece of advice?
"If you want to live forever, then don't stop breathing, like I did."
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