Y. E. Booker, 90, a retired Washington investment banker, died of cancer Tuesday at Washington Hospital Center.

Mr. Booker gave up a newspaper career to go into investment banking in Washington . He had been a reporter on The Washington Post from 1912 to 1918, and the newspaper's financial editor from 1918 to 1921. He was a bond salesman from 1921 to 1926 and then founded his own investment banking firm, Y.E. Booker and Co.

In 1943, the Booker firm merged with Alex Brown and Sons, the oldest investment banking house in the country. Mr. Booker was a general partner of that company and worked in its Washington office until his retirement in 1975.

Yelverton Evans Booker was born in Amelia County, Va. He grew up in Richmond and Washington and graduated from George Washington University. He remained a resident of Washington until his death.

He was a past director of the Investment Bankers Association of America and a board chairman of the Washington Stock Exchange. He also was active in the Red Cross, the old Community Chest and other civic and service groups.

He was an enthusiastic outdoors-man. His clubs were the Metropolitan and the Chevy Chase. He was a poet and some of his work was published privately.

Survivors include two sisters. Elizabeth B. Morton and Katherine B. Wales, and a brother, Lawrence F., all of Richmond.

The family suggests that expressions of sympathy be in the form of contributions to the Nature Conservancy, 1800 N. Kent st., Arlington. CAPTION: Picture, Y. E. BOOKER, 1960 Photo