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Jerry Parr (1930 - 2015)

AP Photo / Charles Harrity

Jerry Parr (1930 - 2015)

Jerry Parr, the Secret Service agent credited with saving President Ronald Reagan's life during a 1981 assassination attempt, has died, according to The Associated Press. He was 85.

On March 30, 1981, lone gunman John Hinckley Jr. opened fire on President Reagan as he exited the Washington Hilton Hotel after giving a speech. Parr was in charge of Reagan's security detail and quickly pushed the president into his waiting limousine.

Initially planning to return to the White House, Parr diverted the limousine to George Washington Hospital after Reagan complained of chest pains and blood appeared on his lips. The president was operated on by the hospital's staff and treated for a gunshot wound that had resulted in extensive internal bleeding. Parr was credited for saving the president's life for his quick decision to drive to the hospital instead of secure medical facilities at the White House.

"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," said Nancy Reagan in a statement Friday.

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Parr once said he was inspired to join the Secret Service after seeing the 1939 move "Code of the Secret Service," which starred Ronald Reagan as an agent. He joined the service in 1962 and in 1979 became part of the Presidential Protective Division.

"Jerry Parr's actions on March 30, 1981, not only saved the life of President Reagan, but Jerry's actions preserved the institution of the Office of the Presidency," said Secret Service Director Joseph Clancy in a statement.

After retiring from the Secret Service, Parr became a pastor. He died Oct. 9 of congestive heart failure.

Parr is survived by his wife, Carolyn, their three daughters and four granddaughters.

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