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OBITUARY: Renowned historian Michael Gannon, 89

Expert on early history of Florida and Catholic Church in Florida

This article was originally written by Kathleen Bagg for the St. Augustine Diocese's monthly magazine, St. Augustine Catholic.

ST. AUGUSTINE | A funeral Mass was celebrated May 6 at St. Augustine Church in Gainesville for Michael Gannon, a renowned Catholic historian who died in his sleep April 11 at the age of 89.

His wife, Genevieve “Gigi” Haugen, described him as devoted to the early history of Florida, the Spain-University of Florida Alliance, the UF Gators and the city and Diocese of St. Augustine.

Michael Gannon, an eminent historian and prolific author on the early history of Florida and the Catholic Church here, died April 11 at age 89 in Gainesville.

Photographer: COURTESY PHOTO

Michael Gannon, an eminent historian and prolific author on the early history of Florida and the Catholic Church here, died April 11 at age 89 in Gainesville.

Gannon was a Distinguished Service Professor Emeritus of History at UF, where he taught for 36 years. He authored more than a dozen books, including “Cross in the Sand: The Early Catholic Church in Florida (1513-1870)” and “Rebel Bishop.”

His scholarship brought him many honors, including being named a Knight Commander of the Order of Isabella the Catholic by Spain’s King Juan Carlos 1. He also received Florida’s Lifetime Literary Achievement Award.

From 2006 to 2014, Gannon penned “From the Archives,” a column in the St. Augustine Catholic magazine. He chronicled the stories of those first Spanish priests who brought the gospel to the shores on an unknown land, their friendships, conflicts with the Native Americans, and the rise and fall of the missions.

He also offered valuable insight into the formation of the Diocese of St. Augustine, the first in Florida, as well as its first priests, bishops, parishes and schools.

In a St. Augustine Record feature, St. Augustine Bishop Felipe Estevez said he always looked forward to hearing Gannon speak and talking with him about Florida’s mission history.

“The name of Dr. Michael Gannon cannot be forgotten by us. His contributions to the city of St. Augustine are of great importance,” Bishop Estevez told the Record.

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