Just a week after the empire he started announced it is shutting down, Toys R Us founder Charles Lazarus died at 94.
"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," the company said Thursday.
No cause of death was given.
Lazarus, a World War II veteran, started Toys R Us in 1948 as a single store in Washington, D.C., selling baby furniture.
At customer requests, he soon expanded his line to include toys and began opening large stores the size of supermarkets, devoted to toys and bicycles.
Toys R Us and its massive selection became a favorite of suburban American families.
Toys R Us opened stores all over the world before Lazarus stepped down as the head of the company in 1994.
In recent years, Toys R Us found itself struggling to compete with other large stores, especially with the onslaught of such online retailers as Amazon.
It declared bankruptcy last year, and announced last week it was shutting down its remaining stores.