Chick-fil-A has lost its public-relations boss, at a time when it really needs him.
Don Perry, the vice president of public relations for the Georgia-based restaurant chain, died unexpectedly Friday morning, as the company battles accusations and protests that it has an anti-gay agenda.
"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," the company said. "Our thoughts and prayers are with his family."
Perry was with Chick-fil-A for nearly 29 years, the company noted.
Though the company did not disclose a cause of death, TMZ reported that Perry died of a heart attack -- perhaps not surprising, given the amount of stress that he must have been under as the company muddled through a PR crisis sparked by the company's president, Dan Cathy.
Cathy sparked outrage when he affirmed that he adhered to the Biblical belief that marriage should be restricted to a man and a woman.
"Guilty as charged," Cathy told the Baptist Press when asked if he supported the Bible's definition of marriage.
He went on to say that the Chick-fil-A company is similarly guided by Biblical doctrine.
"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 comment prompted the Jim Henson Company to end its relationship with Chick-fil-A in protest. The Jim Henson Company had been providing toys for the fast food chain's kids' meals.
Other protests have followed. "The Office" star Ed Helms announced that he was boycotting the company, and Roseanne Barr tweeted, "anyone who eats S--- Fil-A deserves to get the cancer that is sure to come from eating antibiotic filled tortured chickens 4Christ.”