Jerry Parr

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Jerry Parr
Jerry Parr.jpg
Parr just before President Reagan was shot
Born (1930-09-16)September 16, 1930
Montgomery, Alabama
Died October 9, 2015(2015-10-09) (aged 85)
Washington, D.C.
Education Vanderbilt University
Loyola University
Occupation Secret Service Agent
Employer United States Secret Service
Known for Saving President Reagan during his assassination attempt.
Spouse(s) Carolyn Parr (m. 1959–2015), his death
Children 3

Jerry S. Parr (September 16, 1930 – October 9, 2015) was an American Secret Service Agent. He was one of the agents protecting President Reagan on the day of his assassination attempt on March 30, 1981 and is widely credited with helping to save the President's life.[1][2]


Parr received his B.A. in English and Philosophy from Vanderbilt University in 1962. In 1987, he received his M.S. in pastoral counseling from Loyola University in Maryland.[3] Parr was also an ordained minister.[4] In 1987, he received an honorary doctorate in Humane Letters from Eureka College.[3]

Career with the Secret Service[edit]

Parr's interest in joining the Secret Service originated as a boy after watching Code of the Secret Service (1939) starring Ronald Reagan as agent "Brass" Bancroft.[5]:18 After joining the service, from 1962 to 1968, Parr conducted 15 foreign and 65 domestic protective surveys for various Presidents and Vice Presidents, and worked with security, intelligence and law enforcement professionals in all 50 states and in 37 countries.[2] From 1969 to 1978, he worked for the Foreign Dignitary Division as a mid-level supervisor on Humphrey, Agnew and Ford details. As Deputy Special Agent in Charge, Foreign Dignitary Division, he directed security for 56 foreign heads of state.[1] From 1978-1979, he was Special Agent in Charge of the Vice Presidential Protective Division, where he directed security for Vice President Mondale. In 1979, Parr moved to the Presidential Protective Division, where he was Special Agent in Charge and Head of the White House Detail.[3] There, he directed security for Presidents Carter and Reagan. In 1982, he became Assistant Director of Protective Research, and in 1985, Parr retired from the Secret Service. Parr's story is told in his autobiography, In the Secret Service: The True Story Of The Man who Saved President Reagan (Tyndale House Publishing), co-authored by his wife Carolyn Parr.

Assassination attempt[edit]

US President Ronald Reagan waves just before he is shot outside a Washington hotel on March 30, 1981. From left are Parr, in raincoat, who pushed Reagan into the limousine; press secretary James Brady, who was seriously wounded; Reagan; Michael Deaver, Reagan's aide; unidentified policeman; Washington policeman Thomas K. Delahanty, who was shot; and secret service agent Timothy J. McCarthy, who was shot in the stomach.

On March 30, 1981, John Hinckley, Jr. opened fire on the President as he exited the Washington Hilton Hotel after giving a speech. Upon hearing gunshots, Parr pushed Reagan into the President's limousine, which started heading to the White House. Reagan thought at first that Parr had broken one of his ribs when he pushed him. The agent noticed Reagan was having difficulty breathing and bright frothy blood was coming from his mouth. Parr then ordered the limousine to go to the hospital.[6][7]

Community service[edit]

Parr came to believe that God had directed his life to save Reagan, and became a pastor after leaving the Secret Service.[5]:224 Parr was very active in his church in Washington, D.C., where he was a former co-pastor, retreat leader and spiritual director. He served on the Board of Directors at Joseph's House, an organization for men with AIDS. Parr also co-founded Servant Leadership School.[3]


Parr died of congestive heart failure at a hospice in Washington, D.C. on October 9, 2015, aged 85.[4][8] He was survived by Carolyn, his wife of nearly 56 years, and three daughters.[6][7]

Awards and honors[edit]

Professional organizations[edit]

Parr was a member of the Association for Conflict Resolution and American Association of Pastoral Counsellors. Previously, he was the president of the Association of Former Agents of the U.S. Secret Service.[3]


Jerry Parr was a film advisor for the movies In the Line of Fire (1993) and Contact (1997), and for the documentaries In the Line of Fire: Behind the Scenes with the Secret Service (1993), and Inside the US Secret Service (2004).

He has also been a commentator on:


  1. ^ a b "At The Edge Of Death". Newsweek. October 4, 1999. Retrieved 2008-08-13. 
  2. ^ a b Sue Anne Pressley (March 30, 2006). "When History, Destiny Converged". The Washington Post. Retrieved 2008-08-13. 
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l "In The Secret Service". Tyndale House Publishers. Retrieved 10 October 2015. 
  4. ^ a b Jerry Parr, Secret Service Agent That Saved Wounded Reagan, Dies at 85
  5. ^ a b Wilber, Del Quentin (2011). Rawhide Down: The Near Assassination of Ronad Reagan. Macmillan. ISBN 0-8050-9346-X. 
  6. ^ a b "Jerry Parr, at 85; Secret Service agent who saved Reagan". Boston Globe. October 9, 2015. Retrieved October 9, 2015. 
  7. ^ a b "Jerry Parr, Secret Service agent credited with saving President Reagan's life, dies at 85". LA Times. 9 October 2015. Retrieved 9 October 2015. 
  8. ^ Wilber, Del Quentin (October 9, 2015). "Jerry Parr, U.S. Agent Who Saved Reagan's Life, Dies at 85". Retrieved October 10, 2015. 
  9. ^ "Investigating the President: Should Secret Service Agents Have to Testify?". Larry King Live. CNN. July 14, 1998. Retrieved 2008-08-14. 

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