Lowell Hawthorne, the massively financially successful CEO of Golden Krust Caribbean Bakery & Grill, died by suicide on Saturday. Hawthorne fatally shot himself inside his factory in the Bronx. He was 57.

The news saddened people who knew him and knew of him. The Jamaican-born businessman brought his homeland’s flair and flavor, and inspiration derived from his father who was a baker, to fast food in the United States. Along with chief executive duties, Hawthorne worked as the Golden Krust president for nearly 30 years.

The New York Times reported that his death “sent shock waves through the Caribbean community in New York, where he was seen as an immigrant success story, and in Jamaica. And it stunned his family, friends and customers.”

“Our hearts are broken, and we are struggling to process our grief over this tremendous loss,” the Golden Krust company said in a statement. “Lowell was a visionary, entrepreneur, community champion, and above all a committed father, family man, friend and man of faith.”

Andrew Holness, Jamaica’s prime minister, offered sympathy on Twitter. He wrote, “My condolences to the friends, family and employees of Jamaica-born Lowell Hawthorne, CEO of Golden Krust Caribbean Bakery & Grill. He headed the largest Caribbean franchise chain in the US, with more than 120 stores.”

“I was always in search of the next honest means to make a dollar,” Hawthorne wrote recently on Facebook. “Like many transplanted Caribbean nationals, I struggled to work and raise a family. I can only thank God for everything I have achieved, and if my story here can inspire others to rise up and give it a go, then I would have succeeded in doing something meaningful.”

The source of Hawthorne’s anguish is unclear. However, the NY Post reported that Hawthorne lived in fear from tax debt. That portrayal did not sit well with one of Hawthorne’s close friends in Jamaica.

“A lie dem a tell,” the person, who requested anonymity, told the Jamaica Gleaner. The friend explained that the distilled motives reported by some American media outlets were off-base. “Absolutely crazy talk. Nutten nuh go so.”

 

 

 

 

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