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August 13, 2020

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Funeral for Lazar Lifshits

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Funeral: 11:00 AM Wednesday, January 29th, 2020
Home of Peace Cemetery - Colma
1299 El Camino Real
Colma, CA 94014
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Graveside: 12:00 PM Wednesday, January 29th, 2020
Home Of Peace Cemetery- Colma
1299 El Camino Real
Colma, CA 94014
directions

Lazar Lifshits, age 106, died peacefully in San Francisco on January 27, 2020. He was born in the City of Vinnitsa, Ukraine on the ninth of June 1913. When he was a young child, he learned how to speak Hebrew and studied Tora. He had a difficult childhood as his mother died when he was six years old and with the impending famine, he was forced to leave home at the age of 14, starting to work as a coal miner in the city of Lugansk. Combining work with study, he completed his high school education and was thereafter accepted into Leningrad Herzen University specializing in Physics. In 1939, shortly after obtaining his degree, he was drafted into the Russian Army. He started as a Private in the war with Finland, fighting in frigid -40F degree weather. He continued to serve in the Army through the entirety of the Second World War, always on the front lines. His wife, young son, and father perished in the Holocaust early in the war, as they were unable to escape from the advancing German troops. He fought the Germans in Belarus, Ukraine, the Baltics and the Leningrad Front; ending the war in Vienna. He finished the war as a Captain of special elite forces, in charge of a reconnaissance artillery battery. Lazar received numerous awards for courage and skillful command. He was a Cavalier of the Order of Alexander Nevsky, an award given to a select few commanders who showed an extraordinary skill and valor commanding troops in extreme situations. He was also one of the few officers during World War II to be thrice awarded the Order of the Great Patriotic War. Following the war Lazar settled in Leningrad and married again in 1949.

Together they had two sons: Vladimir, who was born in 1950, and Alexander who was born in 1957. While in the Soviet Union, Lazar worked as a Senior Staff Scientist in the Institute of Synthetic Rubber Compounds and also taught Physics. Lazar retired at age 70 and in 1988, immigrated to the United States with his eldest son’s family, to reunite with his younger son who came to the US in 1979.

Lazar continued to be physically active almost until the end of his life. At age 95, he still cycled from his apartment on Van Ness over the Golden Gate Bridge and back. At the age of 50, he became a “Polar Bear” swimming in ice waters of the Neva River. He was also an accomplished cyclist, swimmer, and skier. He was an avid book reader who studied a modern history, followed politics, went to theaters, mastered the computer, and loved communicating with people. Lazar enjoyed travel – he visited Europe, Israel and many places in the United States. In addition to Russian, he spoke several other languages including English, German, Yiddish, and Ukrainian. Through his perseverance he learned how to write and speak English upon his arrival to US when he was 75 years old. All his family members either immigrated to US or were born here, including his two sons, three siblings, four grandchildren, five great-grandchildren, nieces and nephews, and all his in-laws. Lazar had long and fulfilling life. We will all miss him very much.