Dr. Jack Perry was a great man in several respects. A certified anesthesiologist, he was a decorated World War II veteran, a Grey Cup champion, and a football and track and field standout at the high school and university levels. For a time, Parry was Canada’s finest male track star. He missed the 1948 Olympics only through injury.
Jack Parry was born in Windsor, Ontario on June 8, 1922.
A track and football star at Sandwich Collegiate, he was named First Team All-City Football in 1940. At one time, Parry held 10 track records: four WSSA, four WOSSA, and two All-Ontario measures across the 100- and 220-yard dashes, the 440-yard relay, broad jump, and the hop, step, and jump. In total, Parry won a total of 28 medals (21 gold, 5 silver, and 2 bronze) in high school track and field, plus three WSSA and four WOSSA individual titles. He was a three-time undefeated champion at WSSA in broad jump and the 100- and 220-yard dashes, and a four-time undefeated champion at WOSSA in broad jump.
After graduating high school, Parry enlisted in the Air Force, where he served as a bomber pilot. On his 50th mission, another plane in his echelon dropped a bomb that tore a gaping hole in Parry’s starboard wing. Fortunately, the bomb failed to detonate, and Parry responded exceptionally. He ordered all his own bombs to be jettisoned, and was determined to fly back to base safely. The flight home took over four hours as the plane’s wing flapped like a wounded bird, but Parry made a safe landing, saving the crew and the plane. He was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross for “bravery beyond the call of duty.”
Parry’s role in the Air Force allowed him to compete for the Toronto RCAF Hurricanes in the 1942 Grey Cup game, where the team defeated the Winnipeg RCAF 8-5. Parry was named an Eastern Canadian All-Star that season.
In 1945, following his spell in the Air Force, Parry enrolled at Queen’s University, where he continued to play football. In his first game, against the University of Toronto, he scored a pair of touchdowns and threw for one more before suffering a broken leg – all in the first half! Although he missed the remainder of the season, Parry’s brief performance was so remarkable it earned him a place on the Intercollegiate All-Star Team.
Parry studied medicine between 1946 and ’49 at the University of Western Ontario, eventually becoming an anesthesiologist. He played for the Western Junior Colts, the Ontario Intermediate Football Champions, as well as the school’s Senior Intercollegiate Champion varsity teams in 1947 and ’48. At 5’11” and 155 pounds, Parry was light and extremely fast, earning him the nickname “Galloping Gazelle.” Parry was a Canadian Press All-Canadian selection in 1947, ’48, and ’49. He was named MVP in ’48 and captained the team in ’49 and ’50. “[N]o one who ever saw him high step his way down a football field on his way to a touchdown, can ever forget Jack Parry,” wrote Bob Gage of the London Free Press. Parry also starred in track and field at Western. He helped Mustang teams set records in the 880 and the mile relays. He finished his career undefeated in intercollegiate 100-yard, 100-metre, and long jump competitions. In 1948, he was Canada’s National Champion in the 100-metre and 200-metre races, earning him the coveted John Davies Trophy as Canada’s Top Male Track Athlete. He was Canada’s greatest sprint hope at the 1948 London Olympics, but an injury on the eve of the Games precluded his participation.
In 1949, Parry received the Dr. Claude Brown Memorial Trophy, as Western’s Most Outstanding Athlete. In 1978, he was named as one of six originals inductees into the school’s “W” Club Athletic Hall of Fame.
Parry excelled at baseball, too. A fleet-of-foot outfielder, he suited up for Windsor and the London Majors in the Senior Intercounty League, attracting the interest of the Cleveland Indians for a number of years until the War intervened.
Parry passed away on December 14, 1990.