Obituary Gone Viral, The Life and Times of Val “Rocky” Patterson

by M-Gillies

"If you knew me, remember me in your own way. If you want to live forever, then don't stop breathing, like I did." Val Patterson

His obituary began, much like Charles Dickens’ novel, The Personal History, Adventures, Experience and Observation of David Copperfield the Younger of Blunderstone Rookery (Which He Never Meant to Publish on Any Account). And much like David Copperfield, Val “Rocky” Patterson’s obituary began the story of his life with the beginning of his life, by stating, he was born (as he had been informed and believed) in Salt Lake City, on March 27th, 1953. Though his life has come to an end, his obituary, written before his death, chronicled his own personal history, adventures, experiences and observations, as had occurred to him.

It was on July 10th, 2012, when Patterson died of throat cancer, but his obituary didn’t lament on his demise, or the illness. In fact, it quickly went on to chronicle his life, the pleasures, the joys, the motivations and the anecdotes that made the 59-year-old self-described artist, inventor, business man, ribald comedian, husband, brother, son, cat lover, cynic who he was.

Not one for lamenting, Patterson spoke fondly of the life he lived. He spoke candidly of his confession to not having earned a real PhD saying, “What happened was that the day I went to pay off my college student loan… 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,” he continued to write. “I only had about three years of college credit. In fact, I never did even learn what the letters PhD even stood for.”

Throughout the obituary, Patterson continued to tell his story, admitting to stealing a safe from the Motor View Drive Inn back in 1971, and how it was he who had rolled rocks into the geyser of a park. He further went on to denounce the ban he got from Disneyland, saying that the “Banned for Life” file can now officially be thrown away… along with the San Diego Seaworld’s ban as he won’t be “a problem anymore.”

However, Patterson’s true feelings of remorse come near the end of the obituary where he speaks candidly about how when he was young he felt invincible and smoked cigarettes, knowing full-well the damage they caused. But it wasn’t the fact that he had been diagnosed with throat cancer that spurred the repentant words, but rather the fact that he had “robbed (his) beloved Mary Jane of a decade or more of the two of (them) growing old together and laughing at all the thousands of simple things that (they) have come to enjoy and fill (their) lives with such happy words and moments.”

“My pain is enormous,” he wrote. “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 the pain.”

Since the release of Patterson’s obituary on the Starks Funeral Parlor website, the obituary went viral, crashing the site with the website receiving 100,000 hits per minute. To supplement the site crash, the Starks Funeral Parlor posted the obituary on their Facebook pages’ timeline, along with an accompanying tribute video of the life of Patterson.

To view the video and read the obituary, please visit:


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