Dr. Robert Booker (MS ’74, EdD ’91), alumnus of the doctor of education in institutional management and a lifetime proponent of learning, passed away on May 3 at the age of 79.
Despite, or perhaps because of, humble beginnings, Booker worked hard to obtain an education in order to break the racial and economic barriers that restrained many African-Americans in the 1940s. Booker earned his associate of arts degree in accounting at Los Angeles City College just before he was drafted into the United States Army in May 1951 for the Korean War. He served in California as a typist and data processor at Fort Ord in Monterey and the Presidio Base in San Francisco until his honorable discharge in May 1953.
Two years later, Booker earned his bachelor of science degree in accounting and business management from California State University, Los Angeles. That same year he began a 38-year tenure with Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD). Starting as an assistant director of data processing, Booker was soon promoted to director of accounting. At the same time, he earned a master’s degree in school business management at Pepperdine University. He was then promoted to controller, chief financial officer, and finally chief business and financial officer, the same rank as deputy superintendent of schools. He was the first African American to serve in these capacities.
In addition to overseeing the development and administration of LAUSD’s $4 billion annual budget and 14,000 employees, Booker earned a doctor of education in institutional management from GSEP, as well as a certificate as a registered school business administrator from the Association of School Business Officials. He later served as chief financial officer/auditor and controller for San Diego County, chief executive officer (CEO) of the Baltimore City Public School System in Maryland, and CEO for the Booker Group, which he established to provide financial consulting services.
Over the span of his career, Booker received numerous awards for his accomplishments, including more than 10 certificates of completion, a lifetime California teaching credential, and a real estate license.
Booker was celebrated at his service by family and friends, including members of the GSEP community. John and Joan Hall, founders of Options for Youth; Dr. Sidney Thompson, former superintendent of LAUSD; Henry Jones, CalPERS board member; Marguerite LaMotte, LAUSD board member; Barbara Boudreaux, former LAUSD board member; Rita Walters, former LAUSD board member and Los Angeles city council member; Dan Isaacs, Associated Administrators of Los Angeles, LAUSD; Lanette Peary, chair of First New Christian Finance Committee; and Doris Dillard of LAUSD, all offered tributes in memoriam.