Life is Voluntary: Dream Big

By Henry Piarrot

“It doesn’t matter if you fail little or fail big, they are both failure! So go all out and fail big, because who ever heard of someone wanting to succeed in a little way!” – American Action Adventure Author Chris Keys

Clifford Robert Popkey was born in Garden City Michigan on March 19, 1955. He arrived as the fourth of his parents seven children. His Father Robert was a machinist for the auto industry and his Mother Shirley worked even harder caring for a very full house.

An aspiring draftsman for the Ford Motor Company, Cliff graduated from Edsel Ford High School in Dearborn, Michigan in 1973. Athletic and bright, Popkey belonged to the football, debate and drama teams.

With all the options in the world before him, a football scholarship was the top choice of a strong boy on the edge of manhood. However, as the great Ulysses S. Grant wrote in the preface of his memoirs, “Man proposes and God disposes.”

Less than two weeks after graduation, Cliff and a classmate were mowing the lawn at the Dearborn Country Club as part of the landscaping crew when everything changed. The two were cutting the grass around a car sized boulder when a couple girls in string bikinis came their way. While they were both hormonally distracted for an instant Cliff’s buddy ran his industrial lawn mower over Cliff’s foot.

In a matter if a split second, everything changed for young Popkey.

Once he finally reached the closest hospital over fifty miles away, hundreds of internal and external stitches were required to rebuild his foot as best as 1973 medicine would allow. The doctors told Cliff he would never be able to put weight on it again. What they were really telling him was that he was never going to walk.

Of course, the doctor did not know who they were talking to, as even though it took a year and a half. Cliff Popkey was upright and moving forward. Inconvenient, strenuous and painful as it was, Popkey walked.

With his sports dreams behind him, Cliff took a job with a disposal company. Before long, he went from riding the back of a garbage truck to become general manager of the company. At that time, he took a company that was drastically being out competed to a business that eventually sold to their major competitor for over three million dollars in 1991.

Because of his success at the disposal company, Cliff knew probably every businessperson in Oxford Township, Michigan. Consequently, when the present Township Supervisor was found to be corrupt, many of those businesspeople persuaded Popkey to run for the job. On November 3, 1991, Clifford Robert Popkey won his election by a landside, taking office in January 1992.

After cleaning up the corruption, Cliff enjoyed the job, but hated the politics, so he decided not to run for re-election. That day he became a self-proclaimed reformed politician.

After many jobs and more than one self employment, Popkey began writing novels under the name Chris Keys. Cliff actually began writing right after high school but, writing soon took a back seat to having to work and raise a family. He started writing again about fifteen years ago as a hobby and decided to bring his passion to the public in 2006.

Cliff Popkey has owned a construction company, a pre-owned manufactured home sales company as well as been a truck driver, construction worker, sanitation engineer, warehouse worker, landscaper and politician. He has routinely over come every challenge life has presented, from nearly having had his foot amputated by an industrial lawn mower, as well as having fallen off two roofs while working construction.

Cliff relocated to Sevier County with his wife Donna almost a year ago. As Chris Keys, Popkey has three novels available on Amazon and also on Smashwords in most eBook formats titled, “The Fishing Trip-A Ghost Story, Reprisal! The Eagle Rises, Reprisal! and The Eagle’s Gauntlet.” Cliff Popkey has recently changed his mind about using a pen name and will publish all his future works under real name in the future.

“Great works are performed not by strength but by perseverance.” – English Arthur Samuel Johnson

Henry Piarrot is ahotel manager and Sevier County resident on assignment in Hattiesburg, MS. Please send all story recommendations to