Don Perry, the vice president of public relations for Chick-fil-A, passed away suddenly on Friday morning, according to a statement released by the company. The statement did not say how old Perry was, nor who would replace him as the embattled fast-food chain's principle spokesman. "Don was a member of our Chick-fil-A family for nearly 29 years," the statement read. "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."
Perry's death leaves Chick-fil-A without an official spokesperson even as they battle through a marketing crisis sparked by anti-gay marriage rhetoric from the company's president Dan Cathy, whose comments on same-sex marriage and family values have infuriated the LGBT community, supporters and even a number of politicians. Officials in Chicago, Philadelphia and Boston have even threatened to prevent the Atlanta-based restaurant chain from opening new locations. Outraged patrons have even held protests at Chick-fil-A restaurants around the nation, and the issue could begin to affect sales. Of course, some analysts feel that a surge in visits from the religious right will offset the loss in sales, but the company has nonetheless tried to downplay the issue, saying it will leave the matter for politicians to handle.
Several groups supporting the LGBT community are planning same-sex “kiss-in” protests at Chick-fil-A restaurants for next week, and Muppet creator Jim Henson issued a statement that he would no longer work with the company on producing toys for kids' meals.