To write a tribute about the abundant life that Clay Mitchell had in just 3000 words is a difficult task because there are not enough words in the English language to fully convey what a wonderful man he was. Clay had several roles during his time on earth, but the one he was proudest of was being a doting father to his three children – Caden (16), Colson (14), and Cambrie (4). The moment his first child was born Clay’s entire world changed. He was humbled and grateful to God that He would bless him with such a gift, the gift of a child. Those feelings only intensified with his other two children’s births. Clay loved his children with every ounce of his being and would do absolutely anything to provide for them, to protect them, and to make them happy.
In early 2004 Clay and his fiancée, Ashley, found out they were expecting a child – a boy! Naturally, Ashley and Clay were scared – afraid of telling their loved ones and worried if they had enough money and resources to care for a child. After the fear passed, they got to work right away planning for this child. They prepared his room, celebrated with family and friends, and leaned on one another for support and love. Caden Bennett was born on October 15, 2004. He was the apple of Clay’s eye. There is a picture of Clay playing a video game while holding a maybe 6 month old Caden. His most recent project with Caden was fixing up an old Honda Civic that would be driven by Caden when he got his license. He wanted that car to be perfect for his son. On December 13, 2006 their second child, Colson Bradley, was born. Colson is a lot like his dad – quiet at first, but after getting to know him and breaking through his tough shell, you see a kind, sensitive, funny kid. Because of this, Clay understood and empathized with Colson unlike anyone else could. They enjoyed spending quality time together by fishing or going out on the boat. Clay loved his two boys and worked extremely hard to provide everything they needed. He built them a treehouse in their backyard and always made sure they got everything they wanted on their Christmas lists. Some years passed, and Ashley convinced Clay they needed to try for a girl. Science tells us there’s a 50/50 chance when it comes to producing a certain sex. Science, and more importantly, God was on their side and He blessed them with a little girl, Cambrie Michelle, born on December 19, 2016. Clay’s life changed when he had his boys, but the birth of Cambrie changed him in a way that can only be described as supernatural. He was softened – more gentle than ever before, sensitive, and fiercely protective. We believe the Holy Spirit filled his heart that day and allowed Clay to feel a love that surpasses all understanding. She had Clay wrapped around her finger and could get him to do just about anything. Cambrie, who is now four, is confident, sassy, and sweet – all qualities that she inherited from Clay. Her memories of him may fade, but his spirit will live on in her and her brothers forever.
Another equally important role he had was being a devoted husband to his wife, Ashley. They met as young, rebellious teens in 2000 and fell in love instantly. They became engaged shortly thereafter, not marrying for quite a few years, and instead enjoyed life together. Ashley and Clay both worked hard and played hard. They were spontaneous, often making plans at the last minute to go visit friends or attend a concert or sporting event. They enjoyed being surrounded by friends and family. Very rarely did they spend time alone because they both loved socializing, but they always did so as a couple. Wherever Clay was, Ashley was. They could both be strong-willed, which sometimes caused disagreements, but Clay usually succumbed to Ashley’s charm. They married on June 3, 2006 in front of family and dear friends. The reception following the ceremony was such a fun evening! Clay danced the night away, making everyone laugh at his antics. He loved making people laugh and also loved poking fun at people, especially Ashley! Through the course of their marriage they faced trials and tribulations, joyous occasions, and celebrated numerous holidays and birthdays. Clay was a constant companion to Ashley and always reassured her that “It’s gonna be alright.”
Clay was also an older brother to his sister, Natalie, who is a living kidney donor. He was so inspired by her selfless choice to donate, and was so proud of her for her bravery. Clay’s older brother, Tommy, is a freelance artist in Atlanta and spreads joy to others through his art.
Yet another role Clay played on this earth was that of a carpenter. He was a Project Manager for several years at MDR Construction. Without any formal training in carpentry whatsoever, Clay learned from his coworkers and taught himself to do just about any construction project imaginable. He was so devoted to his work, and it gave him such a sense of pride to build things for others. One of his most personal and beautiful projects was building a two-level deck on the back of his house. With help from his friends and coworkers he constructed the deck as a place for his friends and family to gather and have fellowship with one another. Anyone who worked with Clay, either alongside him at MDR or as a client, will tell you he was efficient, detail-oriented, and 100% devoted to making sure everything was done correctly and on time.
Clay worked hard, but he also knew how to have a good time. Almost every weekend, and even some weekday afternoons, you could find him out on the boat on Jackson Lake. He enjoyed wakeboarding and wake surfing, even teaching his sons how to do both. He was also content just cruising, listening to music. Clay also loved motorcycles. After much consideration, he finally purchased his first motorcycle and cared for it as if it were one of his children. He confided in his wife that riding his motorcycle freed his mind and brought him peace. Something else that brought Clay peace was his faith in God. He was a Christian man who believed that Jesus was his Lord and Savior. He is now living eternally in Heaven with Him.
Clay would do anything, for anybody, at any time. It didn’t matter how big or small the favor was – he was there. If he didn’t know how to solve the problem, he found someone who did. Everyone knew they could depend on Clay. That’s why, when the time came for Clay’s physical body to die, Ashley, Caden, and Colson made the most difficult but bravest decision of their lives. They knew it was Clay’s wish to be an organ donor, to continue to help others even after he was gone. They honored his wishes and allowed him to save many other lives. To anyone reading this, we hope you feel inspired to discuss this with your loved ones and make known to them your wishes about organ donation.