Agent Who Saved Reagan Dies
Jerry Parr foiled 1981 assassination attempt on the president
By Michael Harthorne,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 10, 2015 12:00 PM CDT
Jerry Parr, seen here with Ronald Reagan in 1985, died Friday. As a member of the Secret Service, he was credited with saving the president's life during a 1981 assassination attempt.   (AP Photo/Barry Thumma)

(Newser) – The man widely credited for saving Ronald Reagan's life from an assassination attempt passed away from congestive heart failure Friday at the age of 85, the New York Times reports. According to the Washington Post, Jerry Parr met and protected dozens of US and foreign dignitaries and heads of state—everyone from Pope John Paul II to Japanese Emperor Hirohito—during 23 years as a Secret Service agent, but he's best known for his quick thinking and decisive actions when John Hinckley Jr. opened fire on the president outside the Washington Hilton in 1981. "I heard these shots,” Parr said in a 2013 interview. “I sort of knew what they were, and I’d been waiting for them all of my career, in a way."

The Times reports Parr pushed Reagan into a nearby limo and got on top of him. Parr didn't find any bullet wounds on the way to the White House, but when he noticed the president having chest pains and with blood on his lips, he rerouted the limo to the hospital, according to the Post. Doctors say that decision likely saved Reagan, who had indeed been shot. “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,” Nancy Reagan said in a statement reported by CNN. “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." The Post reports Parr retired from the Secret Service in 1985 and became a clergyman.