Jerry Parr, the U.S. Secret Service agent credited with saving President Ronald Reagan's life during an assassination attempt more than three decades ago, has died at the age of 85.

Parr passed away "surrounded by loved ones" near his home in Washington, D.C. on Friday, according to a statement posted on his website.

Parr became one of the most famous Secret Service agents in history when he pushed Reagan to safety after a young gunman, John Hinckley Jr., opened fire on the president outside a hotel in Washington on March 30, 1981. Reagan was wounded by the gunfire but recovered.

Parr has attracted fresh attention recently after a series of scandals that have tarnished the Secret Service's reputation and forced the resignation of its director. Critics of the agency have held up his heroism as an example of the high standards the agency should maintain.

Parr was born in Montgomery, Alabama in 1930. His parents later moved to Miami, where Parr spent most of his time with his unemployed father at bars and hunting small game for meals, according to his biography posted on his website.

He is described as having lonely adolescence that involved the divorce of his parents and an abusive stepfather.

Parr, who has written about his experiences with the agency, was first inspired to pursue a career in law enforcement as a child while watching the movie "Code of the Secret Service," starring the actor and future commander-in-chief Ronald Reagan, Parr's biography says.

More than four decades later, Parr was the head of the agency's Presidential Protective Detail when he famously shoved Reagan into a limousine during the assignation attempt.

After leaving the Secret Service, Parr became a pastor at a church in Washington and began humanitarian efforts. His charitable work included serving on the board of directors of an organization that helped men infected with the AIDS.

He has been the recipient of several prestigious awards, including the Presidential Rank Award for Meritorious Executive from the Secret Service.

On his Twitter page, Parr described himself as a "retired Secret Service agent, loving husband, proud dad, doting grandpa, ordained minister, devoted dog owner."