The founder of Toys R Us, Charles Lazarus has died aged 94 after a ‘period of declining health’, according to a statement from the toy retailer.
Lazarus’ death was described as ‘heartbreaking’ by the company he founded in 1957.
“There have been many sad moments for Toys R Us in recent weeks, and none more heartbreaking than today’s news about the passing of our beloved founder, Charles Lazarus, after a period of declining health,” the company has said.
“He visited us in New Jersey just last year and we will forever be grateful for his positive energy, passion for the customer and love for children everywhere. Our thoughts and prayers are with Charles’ family and loved ones.”
Lazarus served as a cryptologist in the Second World War and returned home in the hopes of starting a family.
Nicknamed the Toy King during the chain’s heyday, Lazarus launched what became Toys R Us aged 25.
He began selling baby furniture I his Washington store called Children’s Supermat in 1948 and as parents began to ask for toys, the business evolved into the famous toy store by 1957.
The news has prompted a heartfelt outpouring from those in the toy industry, no more so than from MGA’s Isaac Larian, a company CEO who has embarked on a mission to rescue Toys R Us from the liquidation it faces across the US.
“Charles lit up every room with his energy and enthusiasm, he was a defining figure of my career and an icon in the toy industry. What he accomplished in his life is nothing short of incredible,” he said through a post on LinkedIn.
“He could conquer hurdles and rise to any challenge with a passion unlike any entrepreneur I have ever met. He was a daring businessman who truly loved toys and his legacy will live on in the hearts of children young and old.”