Perspective: The diaspora has been in shock at the reported suicide of a Jamaican business mogul who employs hundreds either directly or in his franchise arrangements. It is a huge loss to us all.
Police report that Hawthorne who hails from Border, St. Andrew, Jamaica was found dead in one of his bakeries in New York … dead from what appears to be a self inflicted gun shot wound. There is shock and disbelief.
Ambassador Marks Reacts …
Jamaica’s ambassador to USA, Mrs. Audrey Marks reacting to Hawthorne’s dead said “He was the most visible West Indian in America.”
Junior Campbell who operates a gas station in Temple Hall, St. Andrew who went to the same school with the Lowell Hawthorne family. The family has five boys. “It is quite an embarrassment to him and the country, Oberlin High School … it makes me feel hurt. Lowell was an older boy to me. Why him so wicked to us? … if him was under medication then I can understand” … asserted a rather concerned family associate Mr. Junior Campbell, who knew them well.
Reports which we cannot confirm are that he (Lowell Hawthorne) was alleged to be on a certain medication that made him suicidal. Is this so? It is also alleged that his family asked the authorities to take away his gun. It is further alleged that Lowell allegedly committed suicide the same day his firearm was returned to him. Lowell is alleged to have been a member of the police force in the USA. He operated a bus service in Jamaica.
Lowell Hawthorne 57 had pooled family resources in the USA to establish Golden Krust & Grill. They owned 17 shops and went for the franchise route for further expansion going up to 120 outlets. Their presence was in 9 states across the USA.
I had the good fortune of meeting Mr. Lowell Hawthorne about seven years ago. It was at a funeral service held at their family built church in Border, West Rural St. Andrew, Jamaica W.I. The Hawthorne family are highly respected in their hometown as the local people who went to foreign and made it big. Daddy Hawthorne was the bishop of the church.
They also own and operate an Early Childhood Education Institution (ECI) o/c Basic School in Jamaica … catering for age group 2 to 6 years old. I had the good fortune of addressing one of their graduation classes as their special guest. This loss for me is not just a news item but hits me personally.
We hope Mr. Hawthorne was not the victim of a terrorist/racial attack being disguised as suicide. He had every reason to want to live, despite any personal problems he may have had. We cannot rule out foul play in his death. Successful persons of colour have long been targeted by the criminal underworld. Two Churches were shot up by mentally deranged whites recently. Since Obama has left office, people of colour have many reasons to feel scared … their protector in chief has demitted office.
Trump recently re tweeted a posting from a group dedicated to racial discord …its, leader a female is a convicted racist. Reports are that she is facing additional racist related charges.
Will Trump be remembered for his advocacy for racial discord? We hope not. Will this be his legacy? Trump seem to have beholden the racists and gun lobby in the USA since taking office as president.
Hawthorne was the recipient of The Jamaica Observer Newspaper Business Leader Award.
Mr. Lowell Hawthorne gave generously to many worthy causes. He paid school fees for Oberlin students … many other needy students have been helped …. and he is reputed to have taken up his siblings to join him in the USA.
We pray for the family in this time of grief.
Hopeton O’Connor-Dennie is Senior International correspondent & Photojournalist for Vision.