Jerry Parr, the Secret Service agent who is credited with saving former President Ronald Reagan’s life after an assassination attempt, has died at 85. He was in hospice and died of congestive heart failure. He and his wife, Carolyn, would have celebrated their 56th wedding anniversary in just three days.
Here’s what you need to know.
1. Parr Was Just a Few Feet From Reagan When Reagan Was Shot
In 1981, Parr was standing just a few feet away from Reagan when the president was shot, The New York Times reported. He was the lead agent on Reagan’s detail on the day that John Hinckley Jr. shot him. After Reagan was shot, Parr grabbed Reagan, pulled him into the nearby limousine, and jumped on top of him to protect him. Parr told the driver to take off and once he realized that Reagan had been shot, he redirected them to the hospital.
2. He Is Credited With Saving Reagan’s Life
Parr’s ability to think quickly is credited with the reason that Reagan lived. A doctor said that if Reagan had been taken to the White House first, or if they had been even a second slower, Reagan might have died, CNN reported. Reagan’s wife, Nancy Reagan, said that without Parr’s intervention, her husband would have died, The New York Times reported. She said in a statement on Friday, after learning of Parr’s death:
Jerry was not only one of the finest Secret Service agents to ever serve this country, but one of the most decent human beings I’ve ever known.”
3. As a Child, He Became Interested In Being an Agent After He Saw Reagan in a Movie
In what almost seems like fate, Parr first became interested in the Secret Service when he was just a child in 1939. He saw a movie with his dad called “Code of the Secret Service,” that Reagan starred in.
4. Parr Later Became a Pastor
Parr was also an ordained minister. After serving in the Secret Service, he later became a pastor, saying that he believed God had directed his life to save Reagan. He was a spiritual director, co-pastor, and retreat leader at his church.
5. He and His Wife Would Have Been Married 56 Years Next Week
Parr is survived by his wife, Carolyn, and their three daughters: Kimberly Parr, Patricia Parr, and Jennifer Parr Turek. He also has four granddaughters. Carolyn and Jerry would have celebrated their 56th wedding anniversary next week. They were very much in love. In fact, Parr’s last message on Twitter, shown above, was a photo of him and his wife and the words “Love is enough.” He died of congestive heart failure following a stay in hospice. There is no word yet on when his funeral will be.