Al Schaefer, 86, a prominent advertising executive and owner of a leading Philadelphia-area ad agency in the 1970s and '80s, died Aug. 31 of cancer at his Washington Crossing home.

He founded Schaefer Advertising Inc., which was based in Valley Forge, in 1971. Specializing in business-to-business advertising, it became one of the top firms in the region with reported billings of $20 million in 1984. The following year, Mr. Schaefer struck a deal to have his agency merge with a larger firm.

It was "the place to work" in Philadelphia advertising, said a former employee in a 1992 Inquirer article.

The agency won numerous industry awards, including a Clio, which is considered the Oscar of the advertising world, said William Kozel, who worked with Mr. Schaefer for seven years.

Adolph Oscar Schaefer grew up in Montgomery County and graduated in 1950 from the Episcopal Academy. He then attended the University of Pennsylvania and graduated from the Wharton School in 1954.

Mr. Schaefer worked at Procter & Gamble and then independently with partners before launching Schaefer Advertising, said his wife, Leslie Schaefer.

He was an avid sailor, and in 1998 he took his wife and 12-year-old twin stepchildren on a yearlong excursion through the Caribbean on his 52-foot sloop, the Stargazer.

He was fond of European sports cars, particularly Ferraris. He once owned a Ferrari 288 GTO, which he eventually sold to Bill Cosby.

"Al loved fast cars," Kozel said, "and the [agency's] Christmas parties at Aronimink Country Club were ones for the ages."

Mr. Schaefer played football at Episcopal and later coached the school's football team. He also coached the Strafford Eagles, an Upper Main Line youth team. He was a big Philadelphia sports fan and for a long time had season tickets to the Flyers.

Mr. Schaefer is survived by his wife Leslie of 24 years and two former wives. He is survived by a daughter, Deborah Schaefer; three sons, Jeffrey, Andrew, and Scott; his twin stepchildren, Senta Maurer Clarke and Adrian Maurer; and seven grandchildren. He also is survived by his sister and only sibling, Gretchen L. Jackson, who famously bred and co-owned Barbaro, the Kentucky Derby winner from Chester County.

Funeral services are scheduled for 10 a.m. Friday, Sept. 14, at St. Andrew's Episcopal Church, 47 W. Afton Ave., Yardley. A private visitation for family and friends will follow. Interment will be private.

Memorial contributions can be made to Episcopal Academy, 1785 Bishop White Dr., Newtown Square, PA, 19073.