Park Slope Remembers Billy Donald Alexis with the Written Word

Park Slope Food Coop members share their memories of Alexis in a condolence book inside the Union Street cooperative grocery.


On Monday, Feb. 11, the Park Slope Food Coop lost one of its fondest members.

Billy Donald Alexis, who was born Oct. 31 1954, died after a battle with cancer. He was 58.

Alexis, a manager at the Coop, was the bread buyer and touched many people with his infectious smile and positive attitude.

Allen Zimmerman, the Coop’s general coordinator and produce buyer, said that thousands of members were shocked by Alexis’ death and are now grieving their loss.

“For many of us the coop is our community, our family. Alexis was our friend, our brother. He brought warmth and sunshine into our early mornings,” Zimmerman told Patch. “He was a really good man who will be terribly missed by the thousands of members who got to meet him. We share tears and hugs now in the early morning and we share them in the warmth that Alexis left behind.”

The Coop set up a condolence book in the grocery’s lobby, where members wrote their memories of a man passed.

“This morning there is a little bird flying around inside the Coop and somebody exclaimed that its Alexis flying around, making sure everything is going okay,” an entry read.

A friend explained that Alexis touched many of the members with his warm, open personality that made people comfortable, and even feel at home.

“His warmth, kindness, and intelligence were so important to my feeling like a real member in this kooky place,” a friend wrote. “He seemed to have a deep soulful sense of humor.”

And even though Alexis will no longer be seen in the physical form inside the Coop, at least one member said that his spirit will be forever among the aisles.

“You were a shining light of the Coop: Your smile, your voice is still visible,” one person wrote.

And another said that Alexis’ spirit will live inside the members:

“What a beautiful man! I will always have an image of his positive and patient presence living in my heart,” another said.

One simple condolence told of a bond shared by two friends:

“We bonded over bread—what could be better.”

And yet, a good person is not only remembered by friends. A good person is remembered by strangers—a sign of a life lived well, a life lived full, and a life lived by a man of respect and who was a brother to his fellow men and women on this earth.

“I remember your wonderful smile—even though I did not know your name,” another entry read.

If you want to share your memories of Billy Donald Alexis, please write them in the comments section below. 

lynn February 23, 2013 at 04:55 PM
His smile made me happy to be a member of the food coop. Never saw him without a smile and a hello, I will miss him.
Christine Moore February 23, 2013 at 10:47 PM
My husband and I were members from 1996 to 2003. Alexis was our supervisor at the god-awful 6:00 am shift. After dragging ourselves out of bed to (try to) make it there, Alexis was the first person we saw, the knowing smile and twinkle in his eye made us know it was all right we were a bit late, as long as we stayed later to make up for it. I used to look forward to the fun times we had on that shift because before the coop expanded into the big building, we were all in this little space preparing for the day-it was like a little club. Alexis would bring CDs and play the best music over the coop loudspeaker, and we would chat about music and current events, making the shift so much fun. He had such a positive attitude and great sense of humor. I was truly saddened to hear about his passing. What a loss to the world.


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