Val Patterson, 59, an electronic engineer from Salt Lake City, died of throat cancer July 10. He wrote his own obituary last fall, using the piece to confess to some actions he made in life: stealing a safe and not earning his Ph.D.
The obituary was published in the Salt Lake Tribune. Patterson calls himself “a true scientist,” and describes his upbringing and schooling.
Patterson revealed he never earned his Ph.D. from the University of Utah. According to him, an office employee made a filing error and Patterson received a diploma in the mail. He defended his work by saying his designs were legitimate, despite not having his degree.
“I really am NOT a Ph.D. 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 Ph.D. diploma came in the mail. I didn’t even graduate, I only had about three years of college credit. In fact, I never did even learn what the letters “Ph.D.” even stood for,” he said in the obituary. “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.”
Mary Jane, Patterson’s wife of 33 years, told KSL TV in Utah his confession was true.