Tribute For Lloyd Porter, Cafe Owner Who Found Joy in Everyone, Dies at 49

This obituary is part of a series about people who have died in the coronavirus pandemic. Read about others here.

Brian Stover remembered his first day of high school, in 1984. He was standing alone, recognizing no one.

“I was looking for someone, anyone I knew to cling to for comfort,” Mr. Stover wrote on Facebook the day that Lloyd Cornelius Porter died of the novel coronavirus at 49.

“And there he was. Corny Porter was standing in the middle of the quad looking around too. We first met in 5th grade and were friends immediately,” he wrote. “So, when our eyes met that day in the quad, such a sigh of relief came over me.”

Lloyd Porter had that effect on people, growing up in California and, for the past two decades, living in Stuyvesant Heights, Brooklyn, where he was regarded as someone who brought out the best in his neighbors.

He was an actor who had arrived in New York to perform in Shakespeare in the Park. After several years, he and his wife, Hillary, opened a bakery and cafe called Bread Stuy, which went on to endure the recession, buoyed by three fund-raising parties thrown by friends, neighbors and customers. They ran the business until 2011, and two years later opened a restaurant and bakery named Bread Love.

She did the baking. He did the greeting — and also the guidance counseling for new customers and the old ones who had become friends.

“He was able to find joy in everyone, and if they looked like they needed advice, he always knew what that advice was,” his wife said. “He tended to be full of wisdom.”

Having studied agricultural economics in college, Mr. Porter helped organize a farmers’ market as well as chess tournaments, mini-concerts and other gatherings, including an annual Christmas party, which the Porters hosted as Santa and Ms. Claus. The rest of the year he evoked the corner grocer who exuded integrity on “Sesame Street,” Mr. Hooper, which is what some people called him.

Mr. Porter began feeling ill in March. His condition worsened in early April, when a test confirmed that he had the novel coronavirus. He was getting better after weeks on a ventilator, but on May 6 he died in a Brooklyn hospital.

Mr. Porter was born on July 23, 1970, in Los Angeles to Ruth Esther Thompson, a nurse, and Rufus Porter, a house painter. One of eight siblings, he was a graduate of California State University, Fresno. After he moved to New York, he acted for about five years in commercials and in other parts, then opened the bakery and cafe with Hillary Alexander. In addition to his wife, his survivors include their daughter, MacLemore.

The Porters had planned to return to California next month to be near the rest of their family; they had found a bakery to buy there.

“I can hear my dear brother singing in unison with me,” Greg Porter, the Grammy Award-winning jazz vocalist, wrote on Facebook. “He loves to combine his voice with mine. He’s not singing with me in this song that I dedicate to him, but I can hear you.”

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