Covina, California FD-487
Obituary of Sheldon Razin
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Sheldon (“Shelly”) Razin, beloved husband, father, grandfather, friend, seasoned entrepreneur, mentor and author, and founder of Quality Systems (later renamed NextGen Healthcare), died peacefully, surrounded by family on January 15 after a battle with cancer. With his warm, engaging and inquisitive nature, Shelly had a larger than life presence, engaging in deep conversation with all he met, taking a deep interest and “interviewing” them, seeking understanding of their stories and perspectives. His energy and personality, aided by a natural charm, quick wit, and his blue eyes, always filled the room. Born December 28, 1937 in Everett, Massachusetts, the grandson of immigrants from Eastern Europe, Shelly was naturally suited to leadership from an early age. While still in elementary school, running for class president of his Hebrew school, he doggedly achieved his goal of garnering every single vote in the class. Shelly nourished his passion for leadership and excellence by leading his city-league basketball team, “The Chips” to citywide playoffs held at the Boston Garden (“Yes, there really were ‘dead spots’ in the parquet floors” he would often say). Graduating from Everett High School near Boston in 1955, he gained admission to the nearby Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the only university to which he applied. He was extremely grateful that at the time, a student could live at home, work through the summer and earn enough to fully fund an education at MIT. Pursuing a degree in mathematics, he also spent significant time during his freshman year playing ping pong, perhaps too much time. After a summons to the dean’s office for subpar performance, he fully refocused on his studies, landing on the dean’s list, and graduating in 1959 with a bachelor’s degree in mathematics. Immediately after graduation, he made the cross-country trek to Southern California, entering the aerospace industry, where he worked for firms such as Northrop, Lockheed and North American Aviation (later Rockwell International). It was at North American that he met and married Janet (née Murrin), soon thereafter adding sons David and Mark to the family. At North American in 1963, he developed an innovative improvement in LORAN navigation, a predecessor to GPS and an important tool for US Navy submarines and ships, greatly reducing their vulnerability to enemy attack. After his work was declassified in 1967, he was invited to present it to NATO in Paris (his and Janet’s first trip overseas), and later that year on an aircraft carrier where he enjoyed a seat at the admiral’s table for dinners while underway to Hawaii. With a desire to utilize his entrepreneurial skills, Shelly left corporate America and founded Quality Systems (QSI) in 1973 during the mini-computer revolution, which brought technology solutions to mid-size businesses for the first time. Shelly self-funded QSI with $2,000 and no debt, and developed software for many markets before ultimately settling on dental and medical group practices. Initially, QSI provided efficiencies to the previously paper-driven, labor intensive businesses, such as online scheduling, automated insurance and patient billing, and improvements in patient treatment compliance. In the 1990s, Shelly steered the company’s market-leading focus as an early provider of electronic health records through its acquisition and marketing of its NextGen products, and EDI services including electronic claims, insurance eligibility verification, and payment processing, as well as patient and provider facing web applications via the nascent world wide web. Gaining expertise and acumen in business through the real world and employing visionary leadership, he focused on innovation and excellence in product, service, and providing a complete solution which would be an easy sell even at a premium price. Some of his key tenets were “Make it easy to buy” your product, “Acknowledge and learn everything possible from mistakes or problems”; “clearly communicate ‘red lines’ early and never offer terms you wouldn’t accept yourself in the other’s position” in business negotiations; and “identify and focus on the most important issues first, and resolution of the details will easily follow.” Shelly retired from day-to-day management of NextGen in 2001, but remained very active at the board level, as Chairman and later Chairman Emeritus until 2021. After retiring as CEO, Shelly mentored and invested in entrepreneurs and their companies resulting in building three additional successful technology companies, including SurePrep, a leader in tax automation software recently acquired by Thomson Reuters. While his professional pursuits were a constant focus, Shelly also embraced and enjoyed life, family and friendships, often while exploring the California and Mexican Pacific coasts on his sailboat “Gan Eden” (“Garden of Eden”, or “Paradise”) and other world travel, as well as daily interactions with everyone and anyone he would encounter during his days. He would often be found walking or swimming along the beach in Laguna, striking up conversations with locals and tourists of every imaginable background, often inviting them to his house for further discussion accompanied by wine, cheese and a Laguna Beach sunset. Shelly is survived by his wife Janet, sons David and Mark, daughters-in-law, five grandchildren and step-granddaughter. In lieu of flowers, donations in Shelly’s memory may be directed to MIT’s McGovern Institute for Brain Research Psychiatric Research Fund. Gifts may be made at giving.mit.edu/form/?fundId=2743129#, by mail at MIT, 77 Massachusetts Avenue Room 46-3160, Cambridge MA 02139 or by contacting Kara Flyg at MIT at 617-324-0134.