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Mount Sinai Obituaries and Services » Alvin Booker
January 17, 1928 - July 25, 2018
Service Information Mount Sinai Simi Valley - Kamenir Chapel
Service Date: Friday July 27th, 2018
Service Time: 12:30 pm
Mount Sinai Simi Valley - Kamenir Chapel
6150 Mount Sinai Drive
Simi Valley, CA 93063
ALVIN E. BOOKER BUSINESS PIONEER
Alvin Eugene Booker, 90, formerly of Philadelphia and Wyncote, died at his home in Malibu. CA on July 25th, surrounded by his family. He is survived by his loving wife of 66 years of marriage, Janice Lekoff Booker, and his children Ellis Carl (Erin) Booker and Susan Barbara (Jerry Shevick) Booker. He leaves grieving and devoted grandchildren, Sam Booker, George Booker, Truman Shevick and Ivy Shevick.
Mr. Booker was a graduate of Temple University and continued his studies of social psychology in the graduate program of The University of Pennsylvania. But he never worked in the field. His instincts were entrepreneurial and he started several businesses that are now world-wide. As young marrieds, from a two room office at 4th & Walnut, he and his wife started publishing several small regional business magazines. He thought about small businesses, like his own, that couldn’t afford a full time secretary, and offered a transcription service called “Secrephone,” a diminutive for “secretarial service by telephone.” He soon saw, with prompting by friends who had started medical practice, that the need was great in health care.
Secrephone branched out into transcriptions of medical reports for individual physicians and hospitals. At first, hospitals were reluctant to release medical records, but started to do so. Physicians would call in patient’s reports after surgery, at discharge, laboratory and radiology records, to the Secrephone office, where an employee recorded the dictation on an old-fashioned Dictaphone or Edison dictating machine and then typed the report on the hospital or doctors’ letterhead. Secrephone grew to include hospitals from Washington, D.C. to upper New York state. A cottage industry was created using former medical secretaries who were now stay-at-home moms but needed some work that could be done at home.
Some years later, Mr. Booker bought the rights to purchase an electronic device from a manufacturer that was designed as a lavelier people could wear if they were in physical danger. By pressing a button, the device would call the police, the patients’ physician and a member of the family. He called the device “Med-a-Lert” and it became the pioneer of today’s universal medical alert systems. The first advertisement for Med-a-Lert was videotaped in the Booker home entry way. An actress was hired to fall down the steps and told to say the line that is now a cultural icon: “I’ve fallen and I can’t get up.” The ad, which appeared on local Philadelphia television for a short while, has been duplicated by many companies.
When living in Wyncote, Mr. Booker was a member of Or Hadash, a Reconstructionist Congregation and an active member of their Havurah group. He was a member of The Malibu Jewish Center Synagogue after his relocation to Malibu.
Mr. Booker leaves behind many good friends, as well as his devoted and loving family, who meant more to him than any business or outside interest.