Jim Booker, founder of American Fitness Centers, passed away of pancreatic cancer at his Alpharetta, GA home on Oct. 6. He was 76.

Booker opened his first club in 1954 in his early 20s in Kansas City, MO, after pulling together a few pieces of equipment from his parents’ basement. The American Fitness Centers chain took off in the 1970s and spread across the country. He opened several coed American Fitness Centers and several women-only clubs but eventually sold them to Bally Total Fitness and other investors in the late 1980s.