South Florida Diaspora Extends Condolences
By Garth Rose & Kathy Barrett
There has been no shortage of tributes following the sudden tragic death of Lowell Hawthorne, the chief executive officer and founder of the renowned Golden Krust Caribbean Bakery and Grill and many in the South Florida Diaspora have joined in mourning the top business mogul.
Dr, Rupert Rhodd, FAU professor
Dr. Rupert Rhodd, FAU economic professor and co-chair of the Coalition of Jamaica Alumni Associations in Florida, says Hawthorne’s legacy will live on in South Florida. “Although he was known for the business of baking patties and Caribbean pastries, he was also known as someone who we could talk to about community movements and growth,” Rhodd told CNW.
“He was (also) always willing to look at the best side of human beings. I’ve never heard a negative word from him about anyone.”
Rhodd said he knew Hawthorne through the University of the West Indies (UWI), Alumni Association, where he was a benefactor. “He had a very giving, very generous spirit and personality. Although he did not attend UWI, he was passionate about helping current students,” Rhodd added.
Norma Darby – Folklorist
Among Hawthorne’s community outreach, was his support for the Louise Bennett-Coverley Heritage Reading Festival. Norma Darby, the chairperson of the committee that operates the organization in South Florida, extended “heartfelt condolences to the Hawthorne and Golden Krust family” and offered prayers for comfort and strength, during this difficult time.
Consul General Franz Hall
Franz Hall, Jamaica’s Consular General to the Southern USA, also expressed sympathy. In a statement to CNW, he extended “deepest condolences” to the family who is now grieving, noting: “May this stalwart son of Jamaica rest in peace.”
Lauderdale Lakes mayor Hazelle Rogers
One of the region’s more prominent elected officials, former Florida Representative and current Mayor of Lauderdale Lake, Hazelle Rogers also offered her condolences.
Although admitting she didn’t know Hawthorne “all that well” personally, she is well aware of his “business strength and contribution to the community.”
Mayor Rogers expressed special condolence to Hawthorne’s sister, Cassandra, who heads Golden Krust’s operation in South Florida and the rest of his family. “My heart goes out to Cassandra and all the Hawthorne family, immediate and extended, during this tough time,” she added.
Ambassador Audrey Marks
Jamaican Ambassador to the United States Audrey Marks, also weighed in, adding: “Words are still not able to fully convey my utter sense of shock, disbelief, and sadness since receiving the tragic news about the passing of one of our most visible member of the Jamaican and Caribbean-American community.”
Hawthorne has been hailed as a “remarkable man,” the “Patty King” and a “Jamaican Ambassador” by those who had the privilege of knowing him, and by others who have marveled at the story of his success.
From humble beginnings in Jamaica, Hawthorne landed on US soil in 1981 in pursuit of the American dream. And the consensus is that he defied all odds to achieve it!
His impact on the Caribbean community in South Florida is evident in the chain of restaurants scattered across the state – 16 of them in Broward and Miami Dade counties alone.
The meteoric rise of Hawthorne has been nothing short of extraordinary.
The son of a baker from the parish of St. Mary in Jamaica, Hawthorne, along with his wife Lorna and four siblings, opened the first Golden Krust retail location in Bronx, New York in 1989. Today there are over 120 restaurants in nine U.S. states.
Hawthorne was the recipient of several local, national and international awards for his business success and philanthropy. With such a success story, it is no wonder his demise sent shock waves across the United States and the Caribbean.
Hawthorne succumbed to a self -inflicted bullet wound on the evening of December 2nd at his main office in the Bronx, NY. According to NY police reports, Hawthorne, 57, was found dead shortly after 5 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 2, 2017, in his office at the company factory at 3958 Park Avenue in the Bronx, NY. Investigators recovered a handgun and a note but the contents were not revealed.
“Our hearts are broken, and we are struggling to process our grief over this tremendous loss,” Golden Krust said in a statement on Sunday. “Lowell was a visionary, entrepreneur, a community champion and above all a committed father, family man, friend and man of faith.”