Don Perry, the point man in Chick-fil-A's efforts to counter a PR firestorm, died Friday morning. The chain confirmed Perry's sudden death, but did not cite a cause. A relative of Chick-fil-A president Dan Cathy told a local tv station that Perry suffered a heart attack.
Follow-up reports tied Perry's death to the pressure he's presumably been under since Cathy indicated to a religious paper that his definition of families and married couples does not extend to same-sex relationships. Earlier news reports revealed Chick-fil-A has supported rightist groups that oppose same-sex marriage.
Cathy's comments drew outrage from consumer groups and politicians from Massachusetts to California. Elected officials in San Francisco, Boston and Chicago, among other municipalities, vowed to prevent Chick-fil-A from opening restaurants in their area.
In the center of that outrage was Perry, coordinating Chick-fil-A's efforts to calm the public.
I had the pleasure of dealing with Perry many times over the years (he spent 29 of them with Chick-fil-A.) He was a real pro. If he was indeed a casualty of the controversy, the situation is that much more shameful.