Biography of Fred Lazarus, Sr.
Franklin County, Ohio Biographies





Fred Lazarus, Sr. - One of the oldest and most honored names in the mercantile history of Columbus is that of Lazarus. A great store, with nearly 1,500 employes, and patronized in the course of a year by nearly every family in Columbus and Central Ohio, is the visible commercial monument of the Lazarus family, notably the result of the ambitious idealism of Fred Lazarus, Sr. This business, known as the F. & R. Lazarus Company, has been in existence for more than seventy five years. Its founder was Simon Lazarus, and the active men in the business at the present time are his grandsons.

Simon Lazarus came from Wuertemberg, Germany, and started a modest mercantile enterprise in Columbus in 1851. He and his wife possessed $3,000 capital, the basis of their early operations. The only line carried at first was clothing, but after the Civil War the business gradually expanded. In 1877 it became S. Lazarus & Sons. Upon the death of Simon Lazarus, his widow retained an interest until her death. The sons were Fred and Ralph Lazarus, both of whom grew up in the store as lads, sweeping out and carrying water from the river until a more convenient town pump was accessible, and learning the business from the ground up. It was the ambition of the founder as also of his sons to keep the business apace with the growth of Columbus, the establishment ever leading in the retail shopping districts of the city. The first store was in a single room, 16 by 80 feet. The central part of the present handsome store building was erected in 1909, and by subsequent enlargements the store now occupies all of a four story and basement structure with a frontage of 125 feet on High Street and 187 feet in depth.

A great merchant, one who realized his own and his father's exalted ideals, was the late Fred Lazarus, who was born in Wuertemburg, Germany, May 5, 1850. He died March 23, 1917, just a week after the business had celebrated is sixty fifth anniversary. He was educated in the public schools, the old Lutheran College and Bush & Marshall's Business College.

Fred Lazarus gave more than half a century of service to merchandising. At the death of his father in 1877 he and his brother, Ralph, continued the business as partners until the death of the latter in 1903. In 1906 the F. & R. Lazarus Company was incorporated. For a number of years the four sons of Fred Lazarus, Fred, Jr., Simon, Robert, and Jeffrey, had been active in business.

Fred Lazarus was not only president of this company, but was a director and a member of the executive committee, and one of the founders of the Ohio National Bank. He was also a director of the Central National Bank, the Ohio Trust Company, and the Lincoln Savings Bank. He was active in work for the Montefiore Home for Aged and Infirm Israelites, was a trustee and treasurer of the Jewish Orphan Asylum, and for many years a trustee and treasurer of Temple Israel. He was former president of the Columbus Children's Hospital, and was past vice president of the Chamber of Commerce. He held membership in the Automobile Club, Athletic Club of Columbus, Young Men's Christian Association, Business Men's Club, Progress Club, and was an honorary life member of the Columbus Lodge of Elks and a 32nd Degree Mason.

Partly from his father and partly out of his own experience Fred Lazarus derived a standard of ideal perfection for his mercantile business and that ideal he kept before him from the time he was affiliated with his father's store as a utility worker until at the end of life he was head of a great establishment which employed hundreds, and which dealt in merchandise brought from all over the world. It is given to few men to succeed in realizing an ideal so perfectly as was true of the career of Fred Lazarus. The success of the business was not only a personal ambition, but was a measure of his public spirit, since he regarded the store as an essential part of the commercial life of Columbus, and desired that its progress should always be consistent with the growth and development of the capital city. He was a fine type of American citizen, democratic, and intensely patriotic. Democracy was one of his striking attributes and workers in his store were and are always known as "associates" and not as "employes." His charity proceeded not from impulse and was not an incidental attribute of his character, but came as a constant expression of something deep within him and largely for that reason it yielded help and encouragement to hundreds who came to him or whom in an unobtrusive manner he assisted without their knowing the benefactor.

Mr. Lazarus married Miss Rose Eichberg, who was born in Cincinnati, Ohio, in 1859. She died in 1923. She had been a resident of Columbus for a period of forty two years and was widely known for her social and religious activities. For more than twenty five years she was president of the Temple Israel Sisterhood, and took a leading part in all the activities of the Temple on Bryden Road. She was a director of the District Nursing Association, and was interested in the work of the Children's Hospital and the Baby Camp.

To Mr. and Mrs. Fred Lazarus, Sr., the following children were born - one died in infancy - Simon, Fred, Jr., and Robert connected with the Lazarus store in Columbus, and Jeffrey L., who is in charge of the Shillito store of Cincinnati which the Lazarus Company recently acquired.

From:
History of Franklin County, Ohio
By:Opha Moore
Historical Publishing Company
Topeka - Indianapolis 1930


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