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Salt Lake man gets a few things off his chest before he dies

Published July 17, 2012 11:33 am

This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2012, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Val Patterson lived a full life, with a life motto of "anything for a laugh."

But as he died, he had a few things to get off his chest.

Patterson, a 59-year-old scientist from Salt Lake City, died of throat cancer last Tuesday. Before he died, though, he wrote his own obituary, which was published in The Salt Lake Tribune and posted online.

"Now that I have gone to my reward, I have confessions and things I should now say," Patterson wrote. "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."

More shockingly, perhaps, Patterson admitted, "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.

He continues: "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."

But Patterson's biggest regret is taking up smoking. "My regret is that I felt invincible when young and smoked cigarettes when I knew they were bad for me," Patterson wrote. "Now, to make it worse, I have robbed my beloved Mary Jane [his wife] 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."

No funeral or burial service is planned, at Patterson's request. A "celebration of life" is planned for Sunday, July 22, at 4 p.m. at Starks Funeral Parlor, 3651 S. 900 East, Salt Lake City. Dress casually.