Ex-policeman Dennis D’Arcy's heart stopped three times shortly after he arrived at the Blacksmith's Arms in Naburn near York for lunch.
Barmaid Gemma Brice, on her second last shift before taking up a midwife’s post, sprang into action and gave him mouth to mouth resuscitation and chest compressions.
Chef James Priest ran for the village defibrillator which parish councillor Anne Clark, who happened to be cycling past, unlocked.
The pensioner was then airlifted to Leeds General Infirmary (LGI) before being transferred to Castle Hill Hospital.
Dennis spent weeks in hospital recuperating from having stents and a defibrillator fitted by doctors to prevent further cardiac arrests.
Now he has returned to the pub to thank them - and finish of one of the pub's delicious Sunday roasts with trimmings from its popular carvery.
He said: “I don’t remember much about it.
“Only that we had a bit of a walk down the Ouse, only 100 yards or so from the pub, then walked back in and I remember ordering two cups of coffee and after that, I know nothing at all.
“I missed everything, collapsing on the floor, people running around after me, doing compressions, a young lad going out to find the defibrillator and coming back with the parish councillor.
“The next thing I remember was waking up in LGI and I don’t even remember an awful lot about that.
“I was disappointed to miss out on a Sunday dinner, but also on a helicopter ride - I’ve always wanted to go in a helicopter.”
On Sunday, determined to finish the meal he had been unable to complete, Dennis made the trip with his wife Jill from their Hull home.
With him were his daughter Michelle White and her husband Gary from Doncaster, South Yorks., just as they had been in October.
He handed over a plaque from the D’Arcy family to landlord Tony Buckley saying “thank you from the bottom of our hearts”.
“I cannot put it into words how grateful I am to everyone because if it wasn’t for them I wouldn’t be here,” Dennis said.
Tony wiped away tears of emotion as he received the plaque and promised it would have pride of place above the bar.
Dennis said he had had no qualms about coming back to the place where he nearly died because he was an ex-policeman and drew on his training on coping with emotional situations.
Gary White said the family liked to come to the Blacksmiths Arms because “it’s the best carvery around.”
Parish councillor Anne said the story showed how important it was for villages and communities to have a defibrillator.
“He was in the right place at the right time with the right people,” said Anne.
She said defibrillators come with instructions on how to use and can be accessed by calling 999 as the emergency services have the codes to unlock them.