The local, national and international Caribbean Diaspora community is reeling from the untimely death of Jamaica-born Lowell Hawthorne, CEO of Golden Krust Caribbean Bakery & Grill, business entrepreneur and philanthropist.
“My condolences to the friends, family and employees of Jamaica-born Lowell Hawthorne, CEO of Golden Krust Caribbean Bakery & Grill,” stated Jamaican Prime Minister Andrew Holness. “He headed the largest Caribbean franchise chain in the U.S., with more than 120 stores.”
The always-about-town, man of the community Hawthorne was found dead Saturday afternoon Dec. 2, 2017, inside his Bronx factory at 3958 Park Ave. in the Bronx’s Claremont neighborhood. According to police, the 57-year-old died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound.
Initially not convinced by reports of a video of the shooting and a suicide letter, social media reflected real-world, real-time conversations of folks who questioned whether the death was suicide. News that there were tax and class-action lawsuits pending did not persuade some friends and observers of the story that Hawthorne would have taken his own life. Almost instantly, though, the police and a variety of media outlets proclaimed his death to be suicide.
In a statement posted on Facebook, Golden Krust announced Hawthorne’s death and thanked those who had contacted them to express condolences.
“The family, management, staff and franchisees of Golden Krust Caribbean Bakery are mourning the untimely passing of Lowell Hawthorne, our founder and CEO, Saturday, Dec. 2, 2017,” read the statement. “Our hearts are broken, and we are struggling to process our grief over this tremendous loss. Lowell was a visionary, entrepreneur, community champion and above all, a committed father, family man, friend and man of faith.”
The statement continued, “To those who have offered us an outpouring of sympathy and love, we say thank you. Your support means the world to us, and we ask you to keep us in your prayers.”
Bronx Council Member Andy King told the Amsterdam News, “I was saddened to hear about the tragic death of Lowell Hawthorne. Over the years, my office and our community have had a great partnership with Golden Krust, its CEO, bakery owners and employees on a number of community events. On behalf of the residents of the 12th Council District, our prayers and condolences go out to Brother Lowell’s family, friends and employees at this very sad and heart-breaking time in their lives.”
“While we all struggle for answers that may never come, we must use this time to lean into the Lord and pray for the Hawthorne family,” said Mount Vernon Mayor Richard Thomas. “Losing Lowell deals a devastating blow to the heart of our business and Caribbean community. The shock of this heavy situation must motivate us to be mindful of each other’s well-being [especially during the holiday season] and prepare us to do more to uplift each other. This tragedy is the latest test to our faith in the future, and my [advice] to the Hawthorne family and all those impacted is to hold on to hope. Mount Vernon will be there for you and with you as we work to find the way forward through this dark moment.”