TARPON SPRINGS — Dr. Frederick Henry Roever saved his life.
It was 2001 and Vincent Marcionette was suffering from a heart condition known as the "widow maker." There's no pain, no symptoms, the heart just stops operating properly, said Marcionette, 71, of New Port Richey.
"Dr. Roever diagnosed it," said Marcionette, who had been a friend and patient for 30 years. "I was immediately taken to a cardiologist and then had double bypass surgery. When I awoke, it was Sept. 11. All those people died and I lived.
"But I would not be speaking to you today, if it wasn't for him, and a lot of people here have a story about how he helped them."
Marcionette was among hundreds of people lined up Tuesday at All Saints Episcopal Church to pay their respects to the man who touched many lives in the Tarpon Springs area and beyond.
Dr. Roever died Friday in a fire that gutted his million-dollar home at 1304 Belcher Drive, where he and his wife, Patricia, lived. He was 69.
Patricia Roever, 63, escaped the blaze and called 911 about 11:30 p.m. Thursday. Firefighters fought the blaze through the night, but couldn't get into the home to search for Dr. Roever until Friday afternoon because the structure was unstable.
His body was found on the second floor late that afternoon.
"Losing everything your father worked for makes you appreciate the outpouring of love from his friends and the community," said Dr. Roever's son, Christopher. "There is nothing. It's a double hit to lose someone who helped so many people and to lose your home."
Capt. Brandon A. Ball of the State Fire Marshal's Office said the fire was accidental.
"There was no indication of an incendiary fire," Ball said.
Ball wouldn't confirm the origin of the fire, but Dr. David Lindberg, a close family friend, said Patricia Roever told him the fire started with an electric blanket that was purchased about two years ago.
Electric blanket fires are not all that unusual.
Lorraine Carli, spokeswoman for the National Fire Protection Association, said that from 2003 to 2007, there were an average of 330 fires annually nationwide caused by electric blankets. For the same period, there were 14 deaths.
"We tell people to use only electric blankets listed by a testing laboratory," Carli said. "And discontinue use when cords become frayed or wires are exposed."
John Drengenberg, consumer safety director for Underwriters Laboratories, an independent organization that test products for safety, including the electric blanket, agreed.
"As soon as you see damage, especially with the cord, it's time to get rid of it," Drengenberg said.
Dr. Roever was drafted during the Vietnam War and earned the rank of captain. From 1968 to 1969, he served in Pleiku, Vietnam, as a battalion surgeon. He earned a Bronze Star, Air Medal, Combat Medical Badge and a Vietnamese Honor Medal.
In 1972, he and his wife moved to Tarpon Springs, where he became an integral part of the community. Until his death, he continued to practice medicine and even still made house calls.
Tuesday, Dr. Roever's casket was draped with the American flag. Resting on it was the brown doctor's bag he used his entire career, a stethoscope and his pager. Along with Patricia Roever's Bible and engagement ring, the items were found in the rubble of their former home.
News researcher Shirl Kennedy contributed to this article.