Jerry Parr, Secret Service agent who helped save wounded Reagan, dies at 85

This is an archived article and the information in the article may be outdated. Please look at the time stamp on the story to see when it was last updated.

Secret Service Agent Jerry Parr, in a raincoat just left of the president, is photographed moments before he pushed President Ronald Reagan into the presidential limousine after he was shot in an assassination attempt outside the Washington Hilton Hotel in 1981. (Photo: commons.wikimedia.org)

WASHINGTON — Jerry Parr, a Secret Service agent who helped save a wounded Ronald Reagan during a 1981 assassination attempt, has died, his wife said Friday. He was 85.

Carolyn Parr said her husband died of congestive heart failure, three days short of their 56th wedding anniversary.

Jerry Parr was the lead agent the day John Hinckley Jr. shot Reagan and three others in 1981. After hearing six gunshots, he grabbed the president by the shoulders and pushed him into the car. Agent Ray Shaddick shoved Reagan into the back, made sure Reagan’s legs were in the car, and slammed the door shut.

At first, Parr had the limousine headed to the White House, but Reagan’s blood was on a handkerchief pressed against his lips, so Parr redirected the car and the follow-up vehicles to George Washington Hospital.

Reagan spent two hours in surgery and was hospitalized for about two weeks.

Parr and his wife co-wrote a biography of him called “In The Secret Service: The True Story of the Man Who Saved President Reagan’s Life.”

Nancy Reagan said Friday that Parr was “one of my true heroes.”

“Without Jerry looking out for Ronnie on March 30, 1981, I would have certainly lost my best friend and roommate to an assassin’s bullet,” she said. “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. He was humble but strong, reserved but confident, and blessed with a great sense of humor. It is no wonder that he and my husband got along so well.”