Area community reflects on life of GSU alum

Over a thousand people showed up Friday, Sept. 26 and Saturday to celebrate the life of the legendary chef and owner of Brother’s Seafood, Orlando Leanord Chapman. The 49-year-old died on Tuesday, Sept. 24 of cardiac arrest, when he fell into Cross Lake.

On Friday, the viewing of his body was held at Praise Temple Full Gospel Baptist Church of Shreveport, where Chapman worshipped for many years and was in training to become a deacon. In anticipation of a large crowd, Chapman’s funeral was held at Shreveport Convention Center.

Chapman and his only sibling, Fonda, were very close. Both attended Grambling State University. Orlando was recruited as a baseball player by Coach Wilbert Ellis.

“I only had one brother and, growing up, we had to do everything together, so everybody thought we were twins. We were so close, that even when we were at school in Grambling, we had to show people that we were sister and brother because they could not believe siblings could be as close as we were,” said Fonda.

“I am the oldest, but we allowed him to be in charge. When my dad passed away, my brother told my mother and me that he would take care of us, and he did. The last time I talked to him, on Tuesday, he was trying to buy me something,” she said.

Brother’s Seafood is named after their father, Willie “Brother” Chapman. Orlando was a third-generation restaurateur.

He began his journey as a chef by working with his father and grandfather, Arthur “Scrap” Chapman, at the historic Freeman & Harris Café.

Later, Orlando moved to Pete Harris Café and then branched out and started his own business in 2004 in Shreveport’s Red River District. At the time of his death, he had two locations, one in Shreveport on Monkhouse Drive and another in the Villaggio in Bossier City.

Chapman was the father of three sons: Damien R. Lewis, Orlando L. Chapman II, and Adam Chapman.

His eldest son, Lewis, is going to continue his family’s legacy. “Take care of the business, so you can take care of the family, is the greatest lesson I learned from my father,” he said.

“It started in the ’20s, and I am going to continue it. It’s in my blood,” said Lewis.

Like his father, he said he and his brothers will take care of their Aunt Fonda and grandmother, Betty Scott Chapman.

Although he was known as a great chef, most remember Chapman as a person who had a big heart. Many who spoke on Friday cited examples of his philanthropy. 

Throughout his career, he received numerous awards and recognition from various businesses, communities, foundations, and organizations.

Others also offered words of comfort to the family. 

Caddo Commissioner Gerald Bowman, a graduate of GSU, told the family, “You haven’t really lost him. You just got another angel.”

Chapman’s funeral procession was led by nearly 100 bikers. He was a member of the Wild Bunch Bikers Club. An avid golfer, he was the president of the Shreveport Ebony Golfers Association. Also, he was a member of the Agurs  #6 Masonic Lodge.