Perry, who had been with Chick-fil-A for 29 years, recently found himself embroiled in a massive public relations debacle brought on by remarks made two weeks ago by the chain’s chief executive officer Dan Cathy.
In a statement released Friday morning, company executives said:
“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. […] He was a well-respected and well-liked media executive in the Atlanta and University of Georgia communities, and we will all miss him.”
The news comes as Chick-fil-A faces increasing calls for boycotts among politicians and activists after Cathy expressed his opposition to same-sex marriage, and the revelation that Chick-fil-A had donated millions of dollars to anti-gay organizations.
“I think we’re inviting God’s judgment on our nation when we shake our fist at him and say, you know, ‘We know better than you as to what constitutes marriage,'” Cathy said in an interview on The Ken Coleman Show last month.
Perry had been speaking on behalf of the restaurant chain in efforts to contain the damage to its reputation caused by Cathy, and last week helmed the company’s official response to the controversy, issuing a statement that the company’s intent going forward was “to leave the policy debate over same-sex marriage to the government and political arena.”