Jerry Parr, the Secret Service agent whose quick actions saved the life of President Ronald Reagan after a 1981 assassination attempt, died Friday at a hospice near his home in Washington. Carolyn, his wife, said he died of congestive heart failure. This takes us back to that fateful day – March 30, 1981. John Hinckley, Jr., a mentally troubled young man, shot the president outside the Washington Hilton. When the shots rang out, it was Parr who pushed Reagan inside the presidential limousine as it sped toward the White House.
In a 2013 interview, Parr said, “When he was six or seven feet from the car, I heard the shots. I sort of knew what they were, and I’d been waiting for them all of my career, in a way. That’s what every agent waits for.” In the limo, Parr took decisive control. “Take off,” he shouted to the driver. “I thought we were clear, and then he (Reagan) started spitting up blood. I looked at him and said, ‘I’m taking you to the hospital.'” He then redirected the car to George Washington Hospital. As it turned out, Reagan had been hit in the chest and was bleeding internally. Doctors later said that any delay in getting him to the hospital would have cost the president his life.
Nancy Reagan called Parr “one of my heroes.” Born on September 16, 1930, Parr was an Air Force veteran who joined the Secret Service in 1962. He retired in 1985 and became an ordained minister. His faith in God led him to a conviction that God directed his life to save Reagan. He committed his life, as a pastor and teacher, to the saving of souls. A pastor, Board member of Joseph’s House (an organization for men with AIDS), and founder of Servant Leadership School, Mr. Parr was God’s man in the right place that fateful day, 34 years ago.
God used an humble man to save the life of President Ronald Reagan in 1981. He continued to use him for the 30 years that followed his retirement from the Secret Service. Parr never got much notoriety for the work he did spreading the gospel for these past three decades. I thought this would be a good time to change that. Thank you, Mr. Parr, for saving the life of the President of the United States in front of the cameras that would broadcast your heroism to millions around the world. And thank you, Mr. Parr, for serving quietly these past 30 years, making a difference for the Kingdom of God. Friday, heaven became a better place.