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Pastor a blessing in life, death

Published May 11, 2007


A cardiologist just happened to be a few feet away when the Rev. Fred Fife suffered a heart attack Saturday (May 5, 2007).

The Rev. Fife had been bicycling on the trails at Flatwoods Park. The cardiologist happened to be jogging along the same trail.

The cardiologist administered CPR until paramedics arrived. It took more than an hour, because the Rev. Fife was far back in the woods. By that time, the 59-year-old pastor of Temple Terrace Presbyterian Church had lost brain function.

Still, his wife said, the cardiologist's work was not futile.

"Fred was an organ donor, and both his kidneys went to a recipient in Maryland, " Carol Fife said. "They were a perfect match."

The Rev. Fife had come to Temple Terrace Presbyterian four years earlier, seeking to revive a church that had struggled after its previous pastor left. "He was very patient and knew the church would grow, " church secretary Chris Clark said.

The Rev. Fife took a scholarly approach to his sermons, Clark said, and spent hours each week researching. "That was one of his passions, I'd say his main passion, " Clark said. "He loved researching and preparing his sermons."

But he had always had a bit of show business about him, his wife said, and had always acted in school plays. So he wanted to make sure he got a few laughs from the congregation every Sunday.

His sermons had attracted new members, and his emphasis on mission work sharpened the church's focus. He led a group of church members to Honduras last year and had arranged for the church to build a house in Tampa with Habitat for Humanity later this year.

He planned to continue alternating mission work abroad with local projects, Clark said.

The Rev. Fife grew up in Alabama. He and his wife knew each other from the time they were in their early teens, and they started dating when they were seniors in high school.

He was always involved with the Presbyterian church, and no one was surprised when he decided to become a minister.

He was ordained in 1972 and pastored churches in Texas, Louisiana, Georgia and Tennessee.

It was his wife's work with Coca-Cola that brought the couple and their son to Florida eight years ago. They settled in Orlando, and the Rev. Fife took temporary positions at several churches before he came to Temple Terrace four years ago.

He liked to stay fit, and lately he had taken to regular bicycle trips.

On Tuesday, three days after her husband's death, Carol Fife still didn't know the name of the cardiologist who tried to save his life and kept blood flowing to his kidneys so they could be transplanted to an anonymous person in Maryland. The Rev. Fife's corneas and liver were also harvested for use in Tampa.

"Being an organ donor is complicated here in Florida, " Mrs. Fife said. "But I'm so glad that there's someone who's alive today because of my husband."

Besides his wife, the Rev. Fife is survived by his son Jason, his mother and three sisters.

[Last modified May 10, 2007, 07:36:13]

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