Former MLA and house speaker Gene Zwozdesky was laid to rest Wednesday.

Zwozdesky, who was 70, passed away on Jan. 6 after a battle with cancer.

Close to 1,000 people attended his service at the Ukrainian Orthodox Cathedral of St. John the Baptist.

Friends remembered him as a talented musician, dancer and a fixture in the Ukrainian community.

“He played many instruments,” Gail Wacko with the Cheremosh Ukrainian Dance Company said. “His talent was truly incredible.”

But many other Albertans and Canadians knew Zwozdesky as a politician.

“He was really a very special person,” Stephen Mandel, a former Edmonton mayor, said. “He’s going to be missed by his family and by everybody who knew him.”

Zwozdesky got into politics in the 90s when he joined the Liberal Party. In 1998, he switched to the Progressive Conservative Party before he became a cabinet minister in 2001 and a house speaker in 2012.

He had a lengthy career in politics, but music is what he loved. Zwozdesky wrote and arranged many of the song local Ukrainian dancers still use.

“Gene lives forever through our music, and he lives in our hearts,” Wacko said.