K-State Mourns the Passing of Legend Jack Parr

MANHATTAN, Kan. – Jack Parr, a two-time All-American and one of just 10 players to have his jersey honored by the school, passed away on Sunday at the age of 78 at home in Lindsborg, Kan.

A 6-foot-9, 212-pound center from Richmond, Va., Parr played three seasons for Naismith and College Basketball Hall of Fame head coach Fred “Tex” Winter from 1955-58. He helped the Wildcats to a 54-21 (.720) record during his playing career, which included a trip to the 1958 Final Four and Big Seven Conference titles in 1956 and 1958.

Known for his hook shot and soft “face the basket” jumper, Parr was twice named an All-American in his distinguished career, earning second team honors from the Helms Foundation and Converse Yearbook as a junior in 1957 and third team accolades as a senior in 1958 by the National Association of Basketball Coaches (NABC). He was also an All-Big Seven Conference selection three consecutive seasons from 1956 to 1958.

A member of both the state of Kansas (2005) and the Kansas State University Sports (2004) Hall of Fame, Parr was among the first class (along with Ernie Barrett and teammate Bob Boozer) to have his jersey retired by K-State on Feb. 5, 2005. He was also a member of the school’s 13-member All-Century Basketball Team released in 2003.

“He was always a good person to be around and obviously he was a great K-Stater,” said head coach Bruce Weber. “When you have your jersey hanging in the arena, it means you were a pretty special player. I have heard a number of stories from coach (Gene) Keady about the type of player he was and how much admiration he had for him. He was always such a pleasant person to be around and it’s always heartbreaking to lose someone like that at any age. This is a tremendous loss not only for our basketball program but for our athletics department and university. Our thoughts and prayers are with this family during this difficult time.”

Parr burst onto the scene during the 1955-56 season by averaging a team-best 17.4 points and 13.6 rebounds per game to help K-State win the Big Seven title and reach the “Sweet 16” of the NCAA Tournament with a 17-8 record. As a junior, he dominated the Big Seven with averages of 20.6 points and his school-record 14.5 rebounds per game to earn All-America honors for the second time in 1956-57. Parr teamed with fellow All-American Bob Boozer to help the Wildcats to their second Final Four in 1958, as he averaged 13.6 points and 10.4 rebounds.

Parr’s most memorable game came against No. 2 Kansas at Allen Fieldhouse on Feb. 3, 1958 when he made perhaps his greatest defensive play. With the final seconds ticking away, the Jayhawks went to Wilt Chamberlain under the basket for an assumed easy lay-in. Parr went straight up and batted the ball away, enabling K-State to take a thrilling 79-75 win in double-overtime.

Parr still ranks among the top 10 in several K-State statistics categories, including first in both career (12.7 rpg.) and single-season rebounds per game (14.5 rpg.). He also holds both the sophomore and junior records for rebounding average, while he has the mark for most total rebounds by a sophomore. He is the first and only Wildcat to post four 20-point and 20-rebound games in his career, while only three other players (Michael Beasley, Bob Boozer and Nick Pino) have done it more than once. He ranks second in career (889) and single-season rebounds (340), while his 26 rebounds against Drake on Dec. 8, 1956 still place second all-time on the single-game chart. In addition, he ranks 14th on the school’s all-time scoring list with 1,184 points.

Parr was drafted in the 10th round of the 1958 NBA Draft by the Cincinnati Royals for whom he played one season before turning to private business and becoming a Big Eight basketball official. He is survived by his wife, Ann.

The memorial service is set for Saturday, Jan. 17 at Presser Hall on the campus of Bethany College at 11 a.m. The address is 335 E. Swensson Street in Lindsborg, Kan. There is a reception following the memorial at Sundstrom Conference Center at 102 North Main Street in Lindsborg, Kan.  Memorials in lieu of flowers can be made to the Kansas State Sports Hall of Fame and/or Jubliee Jobs of Washington, D.C. These memorials and/or condolences can be made to the Ryan Mortuary at 137 North 8th Street, Salina, KS  67401. Phone number is (785) 825.4242.