James H. Lazarus, 61, who operated a consumer loan business in Mount Rainier for many years and then a liquor store, died of cancer Sunday at Alexandria Hospital.

Mr. Lazarus was a member of the Maryland Consumer Finance Association and served two terms as its president in the 1950s and 1960s.

He began his career in consumer finance in Allentown, Pa. He moved to the Washington area about 35 years ago. He managed a finance company in Mount Rainier and then opened his own firm, Local Finance Co., in 1949. He sold the business in 1967 and opened a liquor store in Riverdale. He sold it in 1970.

He then worked as an employment counselor and for a collection agency until 1975, when he joined the Burke & Herbert Bank in Alexandria as a loan officer.

Mr. Lazarus had been president of the Animal Welfare League of Alexandria for the past six years. He and his wife, the former Kathleen Hoch, were active in the Little Theater of Alexandria. Mr. Lazarus was a 32nd degree Mason.

He was born in Bridgeport, Conn., and attended Lehigh University.

In addition to his wife, of the house in Alexandria, he is survived by a son, Charles, of Chicago, and a sister, Marilyn Bradley, of Las Vegas, Nev.