Rick Stein, a classic man of mystery, had a life worthy of a movie.
Or at least that’s how his daughter, Alex Walsh, put it in a highly fictionalized, off-the-wall and totally engrossing obituary she wrote for her father, 71, on Sunday, according to The News Journal, a newspaper in Wilmington, Delaware.
Stein, according to his daughter’s tall tale, was receiving cancer treatment at Thomas Jefferson University Hospital in Philadelphia, when he decided to break out, commandeer a single-engine plane and take flight over the Atlantic Ocean.
“‘The sea was angry that day,’ said NTSB lead investigator Greg Fields in a press conference. ‘We have no idea where Mr. Stein may be, but any hope for a rescue is unlikely,’” Walsh wrote in the obit, filled with “Seinfeld” and “Breaking Bad” references.
What unfolds is the story of a man whose life was cryptic even to his relatives, with many claiming various occupations for Stein — gourmet chef, botanist, political satirist for HuffPost, trail guide in Rocky Mountain National Park, YouTube sensation and A&R consultant for Bad Boy records who “ran a chain of legal recreational marijuana dispensaries in Colorado called Casablunta.”
The biggest clue that the entire obituary is tongue in cheek is at the very end.
“That is one story,” Walsh writes at the end of her roller coaster ride. “Another story is that Rick never left the hospital and died peacefully with his wife and his daughter holding tightly to his hands.”
Although the notice is mostly made up, Walsh told The News Journal that she weaved in truthful details about her dad’s life, like his hobbies and his occupation as the owner of a jewelry company called Stuart Kingston Galleries. “My dad couldn’t even fly a plane. He owned restaurants in Boulder, Colorado and knew every answer on Jeopardy. He did the New York Times crossword in pen,” she quoted herself saying in the obituary.
She told the newspaper that her dad was recently diagnosed with a rare and aggressive type of cancer and that no one was prepared for his death.
His widow, Susan Stein (who makes an appearance in the obit), asked Walsh to write the obituary, and Walsh — who wrote an equally enthralling obituary for her aunt Alicia Flaherty Stein in 2013 — warned that it might be unconventional.
Walsh said she thinks her father would appreciate the obituary.
“It’s full of inside jokes,” she told The News Journal. “He had a great sense of humor. It was very dry.”
Read the entire obituary here.