Scientist Uses Obit to Confess to Faked Resume and Motel Theft

PHOTO: Val Patterson took it upon himself to be the voice of his own obituary, boasting of things he had gotten away with in his lifetime that he wanted to own up to before dying of throat cancer on July 10, 2012 in Salt Lake City, Utah.
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A Utah scientist used his obituary to admit to colleagues that he didn't actually graduate from college, let alone get a Ph.D.

Val Patterson, a scientist from Salt Lake City, Utah, also confessed to a theft in the obit that he wrote himself.

"I AM the guy who stole the safe from the Motor View Drive Inn back in June 1971," he wrote.

He also told Disneyland and San Diego's SeaWorld they could throw away his "banned for life" file from their records.

Patterson said he lived by the philosophy of "anything for a laugh" and tried to have the last one with his obit which he wrote himself before he died July 10 from throat cancer. He was 59.

High on his list of things he confessed to -- or bragged he got away with -- was his educational resume.

He admitted he hadn't earned his Ph.D. and said it was mailed to him by the University of Utah in error. Patterson said that he hadn't even earned enough credits to graduate from the state university, and "never did even learn what the letters 'PhD' even stood for."

"For all 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 wrote.

The Starks Funeral Parlor said Patterson was a chemist who owned Salt Lake Metals.

Remi Barron, spokesman for the University of Utah, said the university did not have any record of any degree conferred upon or even being mailed to Val Patterson.

"The only information we have is that he attended the university in the autumn, winter, and spring of 1971-1972," he said. "We were on the quarter system then. It would equate to two semester's in today's system."

The obituary was published in the Salt Lake Tribune on July 15, as well as on the Starks Funeral Parlor website, where his funeral will be held this Sunday.

Patterson's mother, Ona Patterson, 82, told ABCNews.com that her son started writing letters and emails when he wasn't able to speak.

Ms. Patterson said that she didn't know her son had done the things he claimed in his obituary, and thought his boldness was just part of his sense of humor.

"I just thought perhaps he'd invented these things," she said. "I knew he had a few scrapes, but I had no idea that it was that involved."

Patterson took a more serious tone at the end of the obituary to apologize to his wife, Mary Jane.

"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," he said in the obituary.

Patterson's mother said she didn't know her son planned to write his own obituary, but is not surprised.

"He liked to do everything himself," she said.

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