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.
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. Parr was also an ordained minister. In 1987, he received an honorary doctorate in Humane Letters from Eureka College. 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. 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. 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.
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. 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 carried a 3"-barreled Smith & Wesson Model 19 chambered in 357 Magnum. 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 newly elected President Reagan as Reagan 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 Regan was having difficulty breathing and bright frothy blood was coming from his mouth. Parr then ordered the limousine to go to the hospital. Parr came to believe that God had directed his life to save Reagan, and became a pastor after leaving the Secret Service. 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. Parr died of congestive heart failure at a hospice in Washington, D.C. on October 9, 2015, aged 85. He was survived by Carolyn, his wife of nearly 56 years, and three daughters. 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.
Awards and honors
- Presidential Rank Award for Meritorious Executive from the U.S. Secret Service, 1984
- U.S. Congress commendations for actions on March 30, 1981, during the attempt on President Reagan's life
- Director's Award of Valor, U.S. Secret Service
- Exceptional Service Award, U.S. Treasury Department
- Honor League, New York Police Department
- Commendation by the Maryland State Senate
- Named as one of four "Top Cops" by Parade Magazine, 1981