When Solomon Drotman (1855-1929) fled to Romania as a young man to avoid conscription into the Russian Army, he took the surname Lazarovitz of the family who sheltered him. Upon immigrating to the United States in 1906, he shortened it to Lazar.
Solomon Lazar ran a confectionery store on the first floor of a rented house in Homestead, Pa., with his two oldest children, Lena (1881-1954) and Hyman (1885-1958). By 1907, he had saved enough to bring his wife, Ida Segal Lazar (1859-1943), and their six younger children, Bella (1887-1969), Sarah (1892-1959), Benjamin (1894-1963), Anna (1897-1976), Josiah (1899-1985) and Rebecca (1900-1911), to the United States.
Benjamin and Josiah Lazar started the B. D. Lazar Company, a jukebox and arcade wholesale and distribution business, located for a time on Fifth Avenue in Uptown.
Josiah Lazar and his wife, Fannie Kwalwasser Lazar, had two children, Robert Paul (1925-2011) and Racelle (1928-2008). Racelle Lazar studied at the Gene Kelly Dancing Studios in the late 1930s and early 1940s and performed in shows at the Nixon Theater and Pittsburgh Playhouse. The Lazar family remained friends with brothers Gene and Fred Kelly and maintained a friendly correspondence for decades. Robert Lazar graduated from Taylor Allderdice High School. He was studying engineering at the University of Pittsburgh when he was drafted into the U.S. Navy in June 1944, during World War II. He was stationed in Chicago, St. Louis and Philadelphia. In high school, college and during his time in the service, Robert Lazar earned money by leading a small jazz band.
In 1950, Robert Lazar opened the Artcraft Uniform Company on Thomas Boulevard in Homewood. The company originally produced waitresses’ uniforms and church choir robes and later expanded into manufacturing blazers and uniforms for private schools.
In 1952, Robert Lazar married Audrey Recht.