WASHINGTON (Sinclair Broadcast Group) -- The founder of the recently shutdown Toys R Us has passed away on the same week the company announced it was closing all of its stores across the country.
Charles Lazarus founded the company 70 years ago and stayed on as chairman until 1994.
In a tweet sent on Thursday afternoon, the company said "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. Our thoughts and prayers are with Charles' family and loved ones."
Michael Goldstein, the CEO who succeeded him at the company, told CNN that Lazarus was "the father of the toy business."
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. Our thoughts and prayers are with Charles' family and loved ones.— ToysRUs (@ToysRUs) March 22, 2018
"He knew the toys and loved the toys and loved the kids who would shop in the stores. His face lit up when he watched kids playing with toys," Goldstein said.
Lazarus began the toy franchise after deciding to expand his baby furniture store into a place that sold toys for all age groups, according to NJ.com.
According to Forbes Magazine, Lazarus earned more than $60 million and was the highest paid executive in 1987.
In an interview with Forbes, he once said "if you're going to be a success in life, you have to want it....I wanted. I was poor. I wanted to be rich."
Toys R Us currently has $5 billion in debt and filed for bankruptcy in Sept. 2017. 1,600 Toys R Us and Babies R Us stores in 38 countries as well as over 30,000 jobs will be affected by the store's shutdown.
Lazarus died Thursday in Manhattan home.