John Parr, College Guy

1967 - 1970

Created by Michael Reagan on 03/04/2008
On the last Sunday morning in March, I glanced at the Purdue Alumni magazine, and saw the bare notice that John Parr had died. It took only minutes to learn of the tragic event, and the sad losses in his family. I stood on a bluff looking out over a suddenly colder and more empty Lake Michigan, thinking of so much. I was lucky. John, Kathy Buskin Calvin, and other good friends were a year behind me at Purdue. For several years, we participated in a lot together, both serious and fun. Kathy has wonderfully captured the flavor of it. John was very smart, and genuinely engaged the people he interacted with. Woven throughout were his wit and a joy which bubbled through, even in the serious moments. He and I would walk the campus, mostly to talk, and the topics were seldom known at the outset. On the bluff last Sunday morning, I thought of a summer road trip we took in his red Austin Healey (a big one) to Elkhart Lake, just 20 miles from where I was standing, thinking of him, decades later. We saw each other for five or 10 years after graduation, including a visit in Denver. But then, I guess, lives intruded. What struck me the most in reading the many tributes to him and Sandy was that his great qualities which made him stand out at Purdue became writ large throughout the rest of his life. The people who knew him much later in his life are describing the same talents and capacity for caring and engagement we knew then, which he developed and put to such wonderful and prominent use on a far larger stage. He was so constant and true, while achieving so much. Even before this, I gained the opinion that current students, in part because of their ingrained technology habits, will do a far better job than most of us did in keeping in real touch as the years go by. I cannot express how deeply I regret at this moment that I had not acted on that lesson I abstractly knew. Michael T. Reagan, April 3, 2008