Harvey Litwin, former publicity executive for media conglomerate MCA who co-founded the Agency for the Performing Arts, has died in New York City. He was 89.

In 1962, Litwin played a vital role in the launch of the APA in New York with fellow co-founders David Baumgarten, Roger Vorce and Robert Lasky. At the time, the agency represented iconic performers such as The Doors, Jefferson Airplane, Janice Joplin, Harry Belafonte, Johnny Cash and Steve Martin. Today, the agency represents an international roster of award-winning creatives.

Litwin, who is of Russian descent, was born in Brooklyn. Prior to his military service as a sergeant in the U.S. Army stationed in Guam and Seoul, Korea in 1952, Litwin received a degree in advertising and public relations from New York’s City College. After duty, he continued his graduate education in accounting and began his entertainment career as publicity director for MCA.

In 1982, Litwin was named to APA’s Board of Directors. He additionally served on the Board of Directors for Swiss Chalet, Inc. in San Juan, Puerto Rico, and remained with APA as the agency’s chief financial adviser and executive vice president until his retirement in 2002. Co-founder Baumgarten once wrote, “A man who has few true friends is very fortunate. A man who has Harvey Litwin as a friend is truly blessed.”

“I will truly miss my dear friend and mentor,” said APA CEO Jim Gosnell in a statement. “Harvey was an extraordinarily generous and passionate man with a big heart. He was like an uncle to me, and remained so very true and helpful to our company long after he retired. All of us at APA stand on the shoulders of our original founders, without whom we wouldn’t be here today.”

Litwin is survived by his wife Gayle, stepdaughter Lauren, son-in-law Antonio and granddaughter Amelia.

Funeral services were held at the Raymond & D’Andrea Funeral Home in New York on Monday and a memorial service will be scheduled next year.