A tribute to my mentor and friend – the legendary Clayton Makepeace
On Sunday, March 15th – I was driving from Maryland back to Georgia when my friend Wendy Makepeace called to tell me the news.
Her husband – my mentor and friend Clayton Makepeace – was admitted to the hospital with pneumonia. Both he and Wendy had colds for several days. But Clayton’s cold took a turn for the worse.
Wendy asked me to keep the details of Clayton’s illness confidential. She didn’t want mass hysteria to occur. After all – this was the legendary Clayton Makepeace – one of the MASTER copywriters and marketers of our century.
I agreed to Wendy’s wishes and asked for regular updates of Clayton’s condition. Then I tried to carry on as normal – but life would never be normal.
We were now in the midst of the Coronavirus pandemic. So “caution” was the word of the day. Clayton was tested for the virus and quarantined “just in case”. Three days later – test results came back negative. Doctors were stumped. His condition was worsening by the day.
When he started having breathing problems – doctors rushed Clayton to the ICU. He was able to send his wife of 27 years and companion for nearly 30 years a final text message – in typical Clayton style.
The last words Clayton sent to Wendy…
Wendy woke up to a text message from Clayton, “They’re putting me on a ventilator. I love you”. All she could muster up to say back were the words that really mattered, “I love you too”.
That’s really all she needed to say. No need for long drawn out declarations of their love. Clayton told the people in his life that he loved them every day – especially “The Redhead” as he affectionately called Wendy.
I know he said it to me – at least a million times this year alone. It would drive me crazy through the years. We would get into discussions or disagreements and I would rant and rave about whatever it was I was passionate about in the argument.
He would state his case – and no matter what the outcome – Clayton always ended the conversation saying, “I love you”. I would get so mad and shout “Not fair!”
How can I ever stay mad at a person who always saw the best in me – even at my worst? The person who saw my potential well before I ever could?
The person who taught me a trade that gave me financial freedom…the ability to live life on my terms…and the opportunity to work in my basement wearing sweats and a pony tail?
I can go back through years of emails from Clayton – and no matter what we talked about – the conversation always ended with “I love you”.
Wendy was finally able to see Clayton but he was sedated and on a lung machine. Doctors were not seeing much improvement. They said his lungs needed time to heal.
Wendy said when she held Clayton’s hand, he squeezed hers. Doctors said it was just a reflex. But Wendy and I chose to believe that Clayton was saying “I love you”.
But he wasn’t improving. His kidneys began to fail and he was put on dialysis. Again, the hope was that time would provide the necessary healing.
During this entire experience – Wendy asked her children and family to stay put. The last thing she wanted was for her loved ones to risk exposure to the Coronavirus.
She communicated with family via social media and phone calls. Everyone understood. After all – these are not normal times.
On Friday, March 20th, the hospital issued a “No Visitor” policy to protect patients from possible Coronavirus contamination. “The Redhead” discovered the hospital had a “special exemption” policy to allow family members visitation.
She took advantage of that exemption – allowing her to see her husband the last 3 days of his life. You know – that experience just reminded me of one of the reasons Clayton fell in love with “The Redhead” – she takes charge and gets things done!
But Clayton was continuing to decline. The family needed to make a decision.
If Clayton were to survive – it would mean a year or more in a nursing home. He would not be anywhere near the person he was. Quality of life would be minimal. Wendy knew what her husband would want.
Go out on his terms!
The prognosis would not pass the Clayton Makepeace “Style of Life”. Clayton was a go-getter. He lived life to the full. He rode a Harley – and even taught “The Redhead” to ride. He raced boats. He flew planes. He “carpe diem-ed it up!” Clayton was fine not growing old. He led a rich life – and I’m not talking only money.
So doctors removed the ventilator.
And before Wendy had to make the decision for end-of-life care…
…Before she had to wonder if she was doing the right thing…
…Clayton took his last breath…
At 2:00 pm, March 24, 2020 – my mentor and friend, the legendary Mr. Clayton “I love you” Gerald Makepeace took his last breath. It was as if to say, “I got this.” And he was gone.
But is he REALLY gone?
While Clayton may have gone to sleep – he sure is keeping us WOKE! I wouldn’t be writing these words to thousands of aspiring copywriters if it wasn’t for the lessons I learned from Clayton Makepeace.
But it’s not just me – it’s copywriters, designers and marketers like Parris Lampropoulos…Kim Krause Schwalm…David Deutsch…Marcella Allison…Rob Davis…Lori Haller…Lorna Newman Berry…Annette Payne…Bob Bly…Deanna Blanchard – and so many others who owe a debt of gratitude to Clayton.
It’s folks on the AWAI team like Katie Yeakle…Denise Ford…and Rebecca Matter who worked closely with Clayton for years to capture his brilliance in the forms of courses… books… videos… and seminars – so that future copywriters can stand on the shoulder of this giant.
It’s his family – his wife Wendy…4 children… and 4 grandchildren – including the newest one, 6-month old Violet…
…And the scores of extended family and loved ones who possess a piece of Clayton in their hearts.
And I know I’m his favorite…
Now, a “Copywriting Papa” should never show favoritism to his cubs – but Clayton sure did! He always told me I was his favorite. And I loved it. It’s probably because I tried my best to be the “female Clayton Makepeace”. I won’t say I succeeded. But I will say it gave me a heck of a grand goal to aspire to!
Clayton and I would spend hours – even days – going over copy face-to-face. He showed me how nuances in copy can make a powerful impact on the subconscious minds of the prospect.
He challenged me to be BETTER every time. He told me to “stop writing like a girl” when I was working on a male potency package. Now – that’s a story for another time.
By the way – I just showed you an example of how to whet the prospect’s desire for MORE. Don’t you want to know more about that story? That’s a lesson I learned from Clayton!
I’m thankful the folks at AWAI have captured so many lessons from Clayton. Very thrilled that his vast knowledge is still accessible to us. So to me, that means – he’s not gone…
…His legacy prevails!
Future writers can become stronger writers by learning the lessons Clayton still can share. His website www.makepeacetotalpackage.com still contains tons of FREE articles and advice that are priceless!
And I will continue to share the copywriting skills Clayton Makepeace generously taught me. It’s my duty to the next generation of writers…
…And it’s a responsibility I will always treasure.
Yours for stellar results,
Million-Dollar Copywriter & Consultant