Donald Perry: Chick-Fil-A Public Relations Executive Dies From Heart Attack

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Chick-fil-A exec Donald Perry diesIn the wake of a public relations disaster set into motion by Chick-fil-A president, Dan Cathy, the vice president of corporate public relations for the company, Donald A. Perry, has died of a heart attack, reports the Huffington Post.

He was 60-years-old.

“Don was a member of our Chick-fil-A family for nearly 29 years,” a company statement published in the Atlanta Journal Constitution read. “He was a well-respected and well-liked media executive in the Atlanta and University of Georgia communities, and we will all miss him.”

RELATED: Boston Mayor: Anti-Gay Chick-fil-A Not Welcome in This City

As previously reported by NewsOne, in a radio appearance on “The Ken Coleman Show,” Chick-fil-A President Dan Cathy voiced his personal stance on marriage equality:

“We’re inviting God’s judgment on our nation when we shake our fist at him and say we know better than you as to what constitutes a marriage. And I pray God’s mercy on our generation that has such a prideful, arrogant attitude that thinks we have the audacity to redefine what marriage is all about.

“We are very much supportive of the family — the biblical definition of the family unit. We are a family-owned business, a family-led business, and we are married to our first wives. We give God thanks for that … We want to do anything we possibly can to strengthen families. We are very much committed to that.”

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In addition to Cathy’s personal beliefs, the information that the company also donated millions in support of anti-gay legislation, has sparked a furious backlash from the LGBT community and its supporters.

According to EqualityMatters.org, the fast food company donated nearly $2 million in 2009 to groups that have anti-gay agendas.

IRS 990 forms show that WinShape, the restaurant chain’s charitable foundation which was founded by Chick-Fil-A’s chairman S. Truett Cathy in 1994, gave to the following groups in 2009:

  • Marriage & Family Legacy Fund: $994,199
  • Fellowship Of Christian Athletes: $480,000
  • National Christian Foundation: $240,000
  • Focus On The Family: $12,500
  • Eagle Forum: $5,000
  • Exodus International: $1,000
  • Family Research Council: $1,000

An earlier investigation by Equality Matters found that Chick-Fil-A, which has been voted the third most beloved restaurant chain in the United States, donated more than $1 million to anti-gay groups between 2003 and 2008. The IRS forms from 2009 are the most recent available as public records.

The reaction via social media to Perry’s death has been swift and Twitter conspiracies are running rampant. One Twitter user wrote: “Okay, Chick-fil-A protesters, you win,” wrote one user. “You killed their head of PR. They’re for gay marriage now.”

See below for more statements compiled by Huffington Post:

“@MichaelBerrySho Chick-Fil-A PR guy of 29 years died of sudden Heart Attack Today… The left basically killed him.

@therealtrex048: Is the Chick-Fil-A PR guy the first confirmed man the Internet has ever killed?

@King_SteveO: Chick fil a dude died the gays killed him

@dazaspaz: Chick-Fil-A’s head of PR died of a heart attack. I’m sorry, but that’s hilarious. We did it guys! We actually killed a dude.

Some homophobic slurs will not be repeated, nor reprinted, on NewsOne.

For his part, Perry tried valiantly to staunch the flow of controversy caused by Cathy’s statements. On July 19, he released the following statement:

“The Chick-fil-A culture and service tradition in our restaurants is to treat every person with honor, dignity and respect –- regardless of their belief, race, creed, sexual orientation or gender. We will continue this tradition in the over 1,600 Restaurants run by independent Owner/Operators. Going forward, our intent is to leave the policy debate over same-sex marriage to the government and political arena.

Chick-fil-A is a family-owned and family-led company serving the communities in which it operates. From the day Truett Cathy started the company, he began applying biblically-based principles to managing his business. For example, we believe that closing on Sundays, operating debt-free and devoting a percentage of our profits back to our communities are what make us a stronger company and Chick-fil-A family.

Our mission is simple: to serve great food, provide genuine hospitality and have a positive influence on all who come in contact with Chick-fil-A.”

Rest in peace, Mr. Perry. You did your best. Hopefully, the already contentious situation will not grow more out of control than it already has. Especially over a regional fried-chicken peddling company whose ideas simply mirror the Bible Belt area in which it predominantly resides.

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