GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Michael Gannon, a University of Florida history professor and expert on the state’s Spanish period, has died. He was 89.

The university said Gannon died peacefully in his sleep on Monday night. No cause of death was released.

Gannon was an expert on Florida history from its Spanish founding through the U.S. Civil War.

The Gainesville Sun reports Gannon was a key figuring in soothing emotions on campus after two major historic events: the 1970 shootings of student anti-war protesters at Kent State University by Ohio National Guard and the Sept. 11, 2001 terror attacks.

Gannon is also credited with research that contends that the first Thanksgiving occurred in St. Augustine in 1565 between Spaniards and Timucuan native Americans.

According to Steve Orlando, spokesman with the University of Florida, said that Gannon was, "absolutely a part of the very fabric of the university," and on a personal note, Orlando said Gannon was, "remarkable and one of the finest human beings he has ever known."

He is survived by his wife, Genevieve Haugen.

Read on the Florida Times-Union