John R. Lazarus Obituary
John Ralph Lazarus, known as “Laz” to his old friends, was an integral member of numerous circles of family and friends, who feel an intense sense of loss due to his passing on May 28, 2023 at the age of 77.
Having grown up in a prominent retailing family in Cincinnati, Ohio, John was later educated at Dartmouth College in Hanover, N.H. From there, he served as a Naval officer on the USS Ticonderoga during the Vietnam War. After the Navy, John graduated from the Stanford Business School, and launched his own retailing career.
Within the Federated Department Store system, John rose to become General Manager of a Filene’s department store in Hyannis, Massachusetts. He fondly told stories about the “library ladies” who would “check out” dresses at the beginning of the summer and return them at the end of the summer claiming they had barely been worn.
After moving to San Francisco, California, John launched his own women’s wear store in San Francisco, known as Susan Griffin, focusing on women joining the professional workforce. Finally, as Chief Executive Officer of Retail Resources, Inc., John combined retailing with his love of golf, creating John Lazarus’ Golf and Tennis Solutions in Palo Alto, California. He also sat on boards of family owned retailers, Zero Population Growth, and the Libraries for the Future committee related to the San Francisco Library system.
When John’s beloved older brother Dick died tragically in an auto accident shortly after serving as Dean of Admissions of the Stanford Business School, John jumped into the breach to play an active role in the lives of his nephews, Andrew and Peter. When his own father, Ralph Lazarus, died in 1988, John took the lead in coordinating care for his mother, Gladys Kleeman Lazarus, for over two decades. Out of that same deep sense of loyalty to people he loved, John assisted with care for his former wife, Christine, and her children when she was suffering with a terminal cancer.
Behind John’s trademark wise-cracks, self-deprecating humor (often related to his golf), and seemingly carefree nature, there was a bedrock sense of duty to the community.
In many ways, John demonstrated a deep sense of duty to carry on the Lazarus tradition of giving back to the community, which originated with his grandfather’s founding of Federated Department Stores and his parents’ impact in nonprofit causes in Cincinnati. He served as president of the Gladys and Ralph Lazarus Foundation for close to forty years. He was also a loyal supporter of both Dartmouth College and Stanford Business School.
In recent years, John retired to the Vintage Club in Indian Wells, California and a summer home, “Acorn”, in Fairlee, Vermont. In both places, many friends are deeply moved by his sudden loss. Of special note is the Vintage dog park gang, who met daily with John and his beloved Australian Sheepdogs, Dingo and Parker.
Surviving John Ralph Lazarus, are his brother, James Lazarus and his wife Susan Gershenhorn; sister-in-law, Kathryn Lazarus Baron and her husband Frederick Baron; nephews Andrew Lazarus, Peter Lazarus (Michelle), Charles Baron (Ashley), Richard Burst-Lazarus (Erzsi), and Joshua Lazarus, and niece Kathryn Burst-Lazarus, as well as numerous cousins in the Lazarus family.
Graveside services will be held on July 8, 2023 at 10:00 AM at Green Lawn Cemetery, 1000 Greenlawn Ave., Columbus, Ohio.
In John’s memory, contributions may be made to Dartmouth College for the Richard Kleeman Lazarus, John Ralph Lazarus, and James Lazarus Scholarship Fund.