Jeff Makepeace, who grew up in Naples, perished in the crash along with his wife and two children
NAPLES — The community is grieving the death of a Naples native, his wife and their two children, who died Friday in a plane crash in Colorado.
Jeff Makepeace, 47; his wife Jennifer, 45; and their 10-year-old children, Addison and Benjamin, were flying from Fort Collins to Moab, Utah when the plane went down about 10 miles north of Glenwood Springs.
A longtime Colorado resident, Jeff grew up in Naples and kept close ties with his hometown family and friends.
The National Transportation Safety Board and Federal Aviation Administration are investigating the crash. According to the FAA, the Cirrus SR22 disappeared below radar late Friday night and crashed under unknown circumstances.
“Our family’s hearts have been broken by this tragic accident. Our grief cannot be defined and will be prolonged. But our memories of this amazing family will last forever,” the families released in a statement. They thanked first responders, search-and-rescue crews, law enforcement and others.
In Naples, people are trying to come to grips with the tragedy and sharing memories.
Lisa Doty graduated with Jeff from Naples High School in 1989. In school, he was “a wild child,” she recalled. But when Jeff was a teenager, “Pepi Neubauer took him under his wing and taught him plumbing,” she said. “Jeff loved to work.” Not long after high school Jeff moved to Fort Collins, where his plumbing skills led to owning his own business.
“He was funny, incredibly generous. He became such an amazing role model,” Doty said.
Jeff’s brother, Caleb Makepeace, 38, who lives in Naples, told The Denver Post Jeff was his hero. “Adventurous and big-hearted, a self-made man” is how Caleb described his big brother. In Colorado, Jeff went to work for Lind’s Plumbing and Heating in Fort Collins and worked his way up in the company.
“In 2006, Master Plumber Jeff Makepeace — employed by the company's founder, Robert Lind — purchased the company, and has worked tirelessly to develop long-term relationships with customers all along the Front Range,” according to the Lind’s website.
Caleb said Jeff married Jennifer about 12 years ago and they were a good match: “If he wanted to go climb a mountain, she was right there with him.”
“Jeff had a gift for giving his friends and family adventure,” said Dionne Abraham of Naples. She recalled last spring, with Naples family and friends, spending a week in Steamboat, Colorado. and Moab, Utah “experiencing one adventure after another” with the Makepeace family — “snowboarding, mountain biking, hot springs, driving four-by-four on slick rocks.”
This summer, when the Colorado Makepeaces were in Naples, Jeff took kids tubing on the lake. In June, he took the Abraham family and other friends for a ride over Canandaigua Lake in his Cirrus SR22. Dionne said it was a special treat for her son, Elias, who went up in the plane on his 10th birthday, June 26.
Doty was there for the ride over the lake with her son, Parker, 14. Jeff moved away from Naples years ago, she said. But his friendships and ties to his hometown stayed strong.
Mary Stone recalled growing up with Jeff and sharing mutual friends.
“He was known to everyone in school as that effortlessly cool, fun, handsome guy we all wanted to be around,” she said. “The Makepeace family has always been similarly regarded: fun, loving, warm, kind. The kind of family that makes Naples what it is — a real community in the truest sense of the term.
“We all are connected, no matter where life takes us. So when a tragedy like this strikes, it reverberates through us in a way that is hard to describe. It feels like a quake followed by these aftershocks of horror and disbelief,” Stone added.
Retired Naples Elementary School Principal Bill Kelly remembered Jeff from school as a kid with a big sense of humor and look of mischief, and Kelly knew he went on to do well. Losing this man and his family — “There are no words,” he said.
Jeff Makepeace is survived by his father, mother, two stepmothers, one sister, one brother, and numerous uncles, aunts and cousins. Jennifer (Hickey) Makepeace was born and raised in Fontana, California. She was a stay-at-home mother. She is survived by her parents, three brothers, one sister, and numerous uncles, aunts and cousins.
Addison and Benjamin Makepeace, both 10, were born and being raised in Fort Collins. They were fourth-graders at Bauder Elementary School in Fort Collins. They are survived by their grandparents, and numerous uncles, aunts and cousins. The family’s dog has also been confirmed to have been on board the plane.