A mysterious obituary telling the tale of a man who escaped hospital after learning he had cancer only to pilot a plane over the Atlantic Ocean has enthralled readers around the world.
The comedic obituary about 71-year-old Rick Stein became an internet sensation after it was published in the Chandler Funeral Home and Crematory website by his daughter Alex Walsh.
It has since taken on a life of its own, with dozens of people calling the creative and entertaining read one of the best obituaries they’ve ever read.
“Rick Stein, 71, of Wilmington was reported missing and presumed dead on September 27, 2018 when investigators say the single-engine plane he was piloting, The Northrop, suddenly lost communication with air traffic control and disappeared over the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of Rehoboth Beach,” the obituary read.
“Philadelphia police confirm Stein had been a patient at Thomas Jefferson University Hospital where he was being treated for a rare form of cancer… Authorities say they believe Stein took an Uber to the Philadelphia airport where they assume he somehow gained access to the aircraft.”
The piece detailed how confused the family were to hear he had flown a plane as he wasn’t even a pilot and instead, according to them, spent time working in varying and exciting jobs.
“David Walsh, Stein’s son-in-law, said he was certain Stein was a political satirist for the Huffington Post while grandsons Drake and Sam said they believed Stein wrote an internet sports column for ESPN covering Duke basketball, FC Barcelona soccer, the Denver Broncos and the Tour de France. Stein’s granddaughter Evangeline claims he was a YouTube sensation who had just signed a seven-figure deal with Netflix,” it read.
By this point many readers were absolutely baffled, because really, how could one man have so many occupations throughout his working life? And whereabouts was this missing man?
That is where the truth really came out, and the moment that no doubt brought tears to the eyes of many.
“That is one story,” the obituary continued. “Another story is that Rick never left the hospital and died peacefully with his wife and his daughter holding tightly to his hands.”
Of course Stein didn’t actually hold all of those jobs and his daughter later explained to The Washington Post that her father owned a jewellery and rug store with his brother before later opening a few restaurants. All of those stories were simply compiled into one great tale from interests and activities he shared with family members.
The obituary received dozens of responses, many of them sharing their own elaborately made-up tales, which only added to the hilarity of Rick’s adventurous life.
“While Rick was helping me install the turbocharger in my El Camino he somehow talked me into hiking the Appalachian Trail with him that winter. We made it home alive but just barely. Never saw anyone wearing only a speedo fight off a bear before. Anyhow, great trip, great guy!” one person wrote.
Another added: “‘You got to suck the venom out’,” I’ll never forget those first words Rick said to me in the back of our ’98 Cherokee we used to drive through the last 1,000 kilometres of the Triangle of Death just outside of Baghdad. From old cribbage teammates, to future munitions runners, I respected the very man before my eyes that day.”
Stein’s daughter told The Washington Post the touching responses were the perfect end to her father’s beautiful life.
“With his sense of humour and personality, it seemed the best way to entertain his friends,” she explained. “Finding humour in the darkest times is how our family copes with sadness and loss, and it is comforting to know people have found joy in reading my dad’s story.”