Chick-fil-A has confirmed that Don Perry, the company’s vice president of public relations, died suddenly Friday morning. While no cause of death was given, local news reports indicate he had a heart attack.
Perry found himself in the center of a media firestorm in recent weeks due to remarks company CEO Dan Cathy made about traditional marriage. Cathy, son of Chick-fil-A founder S. Truett Cathy, did an interview with the Baptist Press earlier this month where he reiterated the company’s biblical foundation.
“We are very much supportive of the family – the biblical definition of the family unit,” Cathy said. “We are a family-owned business, a family-led business, and we are married to our first wives. We give God thanks for that.”
Cathy’s comments have led to widespread praise and criticism, with both same-sex marriage supporters and opponents weighing in heavily. Some gay-rights advocates are urging a boycott of the chicken restaurant chain, while several government officials – including the mayors of Boston, Chicago and Pittsburgh – say Cathy’s views mean Chick-fil-A is unwelcome in their cities.
Former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee responded by calling on anyone who agrees with the company’s stance to participate in “Chick-Fil-A Appreciation Day” August 1.
“Too often, those on the left make corporate statements to show support for same sex marriage, abortion, or profanity, but if Christians affirm traditional values, we’re considered homophobic, fundamentalists, hate-mongers, and intolerant,” Huckabee wrote on a Facebook page touting the event. “This effort is not being launched by the Chick-fil-A company and no one from the company or family is involved in proposing or promoting it.”
Huckabee is encouraging supporters to dine at a Chick-fil-A on August 1 or show their support via Twitter and Facebook. So far more than 330,000 people have committed to do just that.
Perry attempted to diffuse the situation before his untimely death, issuing a company statement last week that said, in part, “going forward, our intent is to leave the policy debate over same-sex marriage to the government and political arena.”
Chick-fil-A’s official statement regarding Perry’s death follows:
We are saddened to report the news to you that our dear friend Don Perry, vice president of public relations, passed away suddenly this morning.
Don was a member of our Chick-fil-A family for nearly 29 years. For many of you in the media, he was the spokesperson for Chick-fil-A. He was a well-respected and well-liked media executive in the Atlanta and University of Georgia communities, and we will all miss him.
Our thoughts and prayers are with his family.
Chick-fil-A’s Vice President of Public Relations Dies of Heart Attack
Chick-fil-A’s Vice President of Public Relations Don Perry died “suddenly” Friday morning, the company confirmed. Perry was based in the Atlanta area and worked in Chick-fil-A’s corporate communications department for 29 years.Ross Cathy, who owns the Midland, Georgia Chick-fil-A and is related to the company’s CEO Dan Cathy, said Perry died of a heart attack, Columbus, Georgia’s News 3 reports. A company spokesman could not confirm Perry’s cause of death to ABC News.Perry’s death comes amid controversy this week over comments that Chick-fil-A’s CEO Dan Cathy made against gay marriage. Cathy told the Baptist Press that he was “guilty as charged” for supporting “the biblical definition of the family unit.”