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Chick-fil-A chief spokesman Don Perry dies unexpectedly

Economy, Business and FinanceSame-Sex Marriage

Don Perry, head spokesman for Chick-fil-A, has died.

The Atlanta-based company said Perry died "suddenly" Friday morning. Perry, who most recently was vice president of public relations, had worked with the chain for nearly 29 years, according to 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,” the company said in a statement. "Our thoughts and prayers are with his family.”

Local news outlets reported that Perry suffered a heart attack.

A spokesman with a third-party public relations company working with Chick-fil-A said he could not confirm the heart attack reports.

[Updated: 12:55 p.m.: "Don was an incredible friend, a consummate PR professional, and was absolutely in love with Chick-fil-A," said Steve Robinson, executive vice president of marketing at Chick-fil-A, in a statement. "His passing leaves a great hole in my life as well as the lives of everyone who worked with him."]

Last week, Perry helmed the company’s official response to the controversy that erupted after Chick-fil-A President Dan Cathy spoke out against gay marriage.

He sent out 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.”

Chick-fil-A planned on “not proactively being engaged in the dialog” on the issue, Perry wrote in an email with the statement.

The company’s policy, according to the statement he sent, “is to treat every person with honor, dignity and respect – regardless of their belief, race, creed, sexual orientation or gender."

ALSO:

Chick-fil-A steps out of public debate on gay marriage

Is Chick-fil-A anti-gay marriage? 'Guilty as charged,' leader says

Teens protest Chick-fil-A gay marriage stance at new O.C. branch

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