About 500 people filled the Beth Israel Synagogue on Friday to pay their last respects to Joseph H. Shoctor.

Shocter died Thursday at the age of 78 after suffering a massive heart attack on April 8.

He was best known as the founder of the Citadel Theatre in 1965 and was also instrumental in helping return the Edmonton Eskimos to the Canadian Football League 50 years ago.

Members of Edmonton's arts community are praising Shoctor for his work. Senator Tommy Banks, who knew and worked with Shoctor for nearly half a century, says his friend and the Citadel made Edmonton the envy of the country.

"They look at the facility that he built and everybody's mouth just starts watering, 'How could we possibly have a thing like that?'" says Banks. "Well, the only way you can have a thing like that is if you have a Joe Shoctor. There aren't any more of them."

Bob Baker, the Citadel's artistic director, says Shoctor is the reason why Edmonton has a thriving artistic community.

"His passion for theatre was infectious, his desire for live theatre to be integral in this community was unstoppable and his accomplishments are huge," says Baker.

Shoctor was an officer of the Order of Canada and received the Governor General's Performing Arts Award in 1998. He also held the Alberta Order of Excellence.