WESTOVER - With a community and hundreds of fellow emergency responders paying their respects, the Westover Area Fire Company sounded the alarm one last time Wednesday for fallen fireman Roy E. Westover Jr.
The 41-year-old Westover man, who died of a heart attack early Saturday battling an arson fire, was laid to rest after a full honors ceremony where friends remembered him for a life dedicated to family, firefighting and friends.
"Roy was a marvelous man a family, community and Christian hero," said the Rev. Charles "Bud" Long, a longtime friend.
As many as 400 firefighters and emergency responders attended a memorial service for Westover Tuesday night, Clearfield County officials said.
On Wednesday, as many as 200 followed his casket to the cemetery alongside Westover Baptist Church where he was laid to rest. Westover's firefighter's helmet was placed atop his casket at the church.
A father of three boys who spent 28 years as a firefighter, Westover was remembered by friends as one of those who spearheaded efforts to get the community's fire company going in the early 1980s, despite doubts it couldn't happen.
"He would not accept defeat," said Long, noting it made Westover a great firefighter. "No one can take Roy's place. He was a flat-out hero. Someone's going to have to fill in the gap."
"It's just sorrowful to lose a guy like him after all of this time," said Westover firefighter Tracey Hoyt, who said he knew Roy since they both were kids.
"He was proud to be a firefighter," Hoyt said. "He was always there for us; he always showed up."
Westover found a way to do the same for his family, Long said.
Calling him a "great, great dad," Long said the single father sat down to talk and pray with his children before heading to bed the night before the fire.
"The firefighters who fought side-by-side with Roy will miss him. We as friends will miss him. His family will miss him," Long added. "Why was [he taken] this early? I have no idea but Roy's in a better place. He feels no pain. He's rejoicing right now."
Westover died at Miners Medical Center in Hastings early Saturday after becoming ill at the fire scene. Cambria County Coroner Dennis Kwiatkowski ruled Westover's death was caused by a stress-induced heart attack.
State police from Clearfield and Jefferson counties are continuing to investigate the circumstances surrounding Saturday's fire. It's one of numerous suspicious blazes currently being looked into and with arson as the cause in the latest one, they are handling the investigation as a homicide.
Outside, dozens of fire trucks that carried groups of firefighters - many in formal uniforms - lined up on adjacent streets, while two ladder trucks formed an arch on West Bridge Street - a tradition to mark a firefighter's passing.
Firefighters from the Pittsburgh area and from McKean County traveled to the service Wednesday.
"We've gotten so much support," said Hoyt, adding that Westover deserved it.
The sign at Westover Area Fire Company read "in loving memory of our brother Roy."
Westover's sons are now part of the family, too. Hoyt noted that one of their uncles is a fellow firefighter, and the company assured the boys that the station is their home, too.