Phil Karsh, who with Tom Hagan co-founded the Karsh Hagan advertising agency nearly 40 years ago, died Friday after a four-year battle with leukemia. He was 81.

The agency opened in 1977 with a single client, Majestic Savings and Loan, and soon brought in Best Western and McDonald’s. Later, the agency represented the Colorado Lottery and Colorado Tourism Board, Colorado National Bank, Vail, Aspen, Beaver Creek and Steamboat Ski areas and the Denver Convention and Visitors Bureau, now called Visit Denver.

Over the years, the agency grew from four to about 60 people.

"Forty years ago, two men founded Karsh Hagan on a love of big ideas. Phil Karsh and Tom Hagan shared a vision of acquiring blue chip clients and producing national quality work right here in Denver," a statement from the agency said.

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