GREEN BAY, Wis. (NBC 26) — While Michael Rutz was teaching a class at UW-Oshkosh, two students told him Queen Elizabeth II had just died.
"Obviously I saw, when I woke up this morning, kind of the news that her health was being monitored and the family was coming," Rutz said. "I was like 'oh, wow.' That was really sudden. I don't know that I necessarily expected just a couple of hours later as I finished up class it's official."
The British historian says it was a significant moment for him and Northeast Wisconsin alike.
"Part of it is just the longevity right?" he said. "She was queen for 70 years, so that's the longest reign of any monarch in British history," Rutz said.
Queen Elizabeth II's presence goes far beyond the United Kingdom. Her legacy includes a moment in Wisconsin history when the British monarch sailed through Lake Michigan past Milwaukee in 1959.
"In a sense, a kind of global celebrity figure in everybody's lives, right?" Rutz said. "The queen with Britain, symbolically, they're kind of together for the lives of most all of us who are here and alive now."
Fast forward many years to today, the chair of the UW-Oshkosh history department believes the queen enabled a connection to the past.
"She was a kind of symbol I think for Britain's of that stability and history and strength during a time period in which they saw their global power and status in decline," Rutz said.
After a 70-year reign, those like Rutz applaud some of the queen's work and her legacy.
"Her commitment to public service, which I think was really commendable, that you have a little bit of sadness over that and the passing of her as an important figure," he said.