Crawford Gates

December 29, 1921June 8, 2018
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Crawford Gates, husband, father, grandfather, bishop, teacher, mentor, and talented composer passed away on Friday, June 8th at the impressive age of 96. He was born to Gilbert Marion Gates and Leila Adair Gates in San Francisco, California on December 29th, 1921. He was a lifelong musician and composed and performed his first piece when he was eight years old. He earned his first commission when he was 14. Crawford graduated high school at 16 and attended the College of the Pacific and San Jose State before serving an LDS mission in the Eastern States. As a missionary he arranged and directed music for a group of eight missionaries who formed the Mormon Male Chorus of Philadelphia. Their weekly broadcast on WFIL had a substantial impact on missionary work in the region. Just before the end of his mission, Pearl Harbor was bombed and Crawford returned home and enlisted in the Navy. He completed his Officer’s Training and his Bachelor’s Degree simultaneously and was stationed in Hawaii for the duration of the war. In 1946 Crawford began his graduate studies at Brigham Young University in music. Later that year the Utah Centennial Commission announced plans to celebrate 100 years of Utah history. Crawford was commissioned to write the musical score to Promised Valley. He was 25 years of age at time. He finished his Master’s in Music and taught in the music department, while searching for the woman he would affectionately call ‘my dear sweet love’. Crawford finally met Georgia Lauper, a smart, beautiful, and talented musician. They were married in the Salt Lake Temple in December 1952. Over the next 5 years, they were blessed with 4 children, two girls and two boys. Crawford was on the faculty of BYU and was mentored by Maurice Abravanel, conductor of the Utah Symphony, taking advantage of many musical opportunities. He earned his Doctorate degree from the Eastman School of Music in 1954. Intermittently over a four year period, Crawford composed an original score for the Hill Cumorah Pageant which debuted in 1957. Thirty years later the entire production was revamped and his rewritten score is being used to this day. In 1966, the Gates family moved to Wisconsin where he had been appointed the conductor of the Beloit Janesville Symphony. Later, he also became the conductor of the Quincy Symphony, and Rockford Symphony. During this time he was commissioned to write many symphonic works including Ballad of the Prairie State, Wisconsin Profiles, Lake Songs, and Visions of Eternity. He was the recipient of many awards from the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP). His hymns Ring Out Wild Bells and Our Savior’s Love are included in the 1985 LDS hymnal. In 1999 Crawford and Georgia moved to Salt Lake City to continue various composing projects and to be closer to their children. Crawford worked closely with BYU to create an archive of his nearly 900 musical works and appeared as a guest conductor numerous times. He was tirelessly devoted to his family, regularly travelling with Georgia to all the major life events of their 14 living grandchildren. His is truly a life to be celebrated. He was a disciple of Christ first and foremost and was a marvelous example to his family. He frequently expressed gratitude for the blessings of his life. He is preceded in death by his parents, his daughter-in-law Nancy Bliss Gates, his grandson Shepard Chamberlain Gates, and brother-in-law Gib Hutchings. He is survived by his loving wife Georgia, 4 children, 14 grandchildren, and 28 great grandchildren.

In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made to the LDS Missionary Fund, or the Utah Symphony. A Memorial service will be held at 11 a.m. on June 23 at the Monument Park Stake Center at 1320 South Wasatch Dr; Salt Lake City, Utah. There will be a viewing the night before from 7:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. at the LDS Chapel at 2255 South Wasatch Drive East Salt Lake City, Utah. Online condolences may be shared at


  • Georgia Gates, Wife
  • Stephen Gates, Son
  • Nancy Gates, Daughter-in-law
  • Kathryn Kern, Daughter
  • Paul Gates, Son-in-law
  • Elizabeth Dailey, Daughter
  • Kirby Dailey, Son-in-law
  • David Gates, Son
  • Carole Gates, Daughter-in-law
  • 14 grandchildren and 28 great-grandchildren who will cherish his memory.

  • Philip Kern
  • K.C. Kern
  • Peter Kern
  • Benjamin Dailey
  • Stephen Gates
  • Crawford Gates
  • Samuel Dailey
  • Jonathan Harper
  • Bart Bradshaw
  • Adam McBride
  • Jonathon Bult


  • Visitation Friday, June 22, 2018
  • Celebration of Crawford's Life Saturday, June 23, 2018

Crawford Gates

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Chuck Rasmussen

December 31, 2018

I was a young missionary serving in the Beloit Ward when Bishop Gates and Georgia were there. I found him to be candid yet loving. I've always loved his music to Tennyson's Ring Out, Wild Bells, which I visit every end-of-year as I'm doing tonight, 12/31/2018. I just saw and learned of his passing. My heartfelt sympathy to the family.

Craig Davis

December 30, 2018

Known to me as Brother Gates when I was 17 and 18, I was somewhat aware of the caliber of musician he was but was more aware of the often serious but sometime fun loving man he was. His skill on the piano stunned me.

Once he and Sister Gates drove a group of youth from Beloit to a dance in Milwaukee. On the way his car got a flat tire. After stopping on the side of the road he and I got out to look at the tire. He said “Oh dear” several times and I realized he didn’t know how to change the tire. Trying to be considerate of his feelings I said “Brother Gates, you are dressed up in a suit and I’m just wearing slacks. Why don’t you let me change the tire? “ He was obviously surprised (I was 17 at the time) and asked me if I knew how to do it. Of course I did, our old kids car needed tires changed regularly, so he let me do it. And off we went to have a great time.

My life is richer for having known Brother Gates. My condolences to his loved wife and children!

Craig Davis

Peter Gorham

October 5, 2018

To the Gates Family: Fifty years ago, in 1969, I had one more elective course to take for my liberal arts degree at Beloit College. I was a philosophy major. I chose Contemporary Music for no particular reason, other than the description of the course sounded interesting. It was one of the best courses I had at Beloit, or ever in my life. Mr. Gates was a gentle, inspiring, gentleman and a wonderful teacher, whom I have always remembered fondly. The course gave me a deep appreciation for aspects of music I had not been aware of. For the first time in my life I learned of the 12-Tone School and wrote a fascinating paper on Arnold Shoenberg and became fairly knowledgeable about the subject. For the rest of my life -I am 73 now- I introduced others to this type of music. I LOVED going to this class, I LOVED Mr. Gates who was classy and approachable at once. I never forgot him or the class, and always referred to it and to him when discussing my favorite college class. I am very sorry he has passed away. His passing recalls to me what glee I felt each day I had a class in Contemporary Music from Dr. Crawford Gates. Sincerely, Peter J. Gorham

Louise Abreu

August 9, 2018

Dear Gates Family,

Dr. Gates has been in my thoughts many times through the years. I was a music major at Beloit in the early 1970's and had the privilege to play violin in the symphony under his direction. He was a wonderful, inspirational conductor--always polite and kind even when correcting us.
I remember receiving a phone call from Dr. Gates reminding me to attend a sectional rehearsal. I was asleep when the phone rang, still groggy when I picked up the receiver, and did not expect to hear his voice, "Wearily I said, "But Dr. Gates, it's 6 a.m., it's still dark outside." Without the slightest apology, he said something like, "C'mon, Louise. I've been up for hours. I do my best work in the morning. You should be up by now."
He was right.

Paralee Miles Eckman

June 23, 2018

I'm sure Dr. Gates didn't remember me, but I was a piano student of his in the 1954 fall quarter of college at BYU. I was so impressed with him and his teaching, and it has been my privilege all the years since to proudly mention, at times, that he was my piano teacher then. One of the last things he said to me was "Don't quite taking piano lessons!" I was fairly advanced, having taken piano lessons around 11 years before in St. George. That quarter was the only one I could afford piano lessons. The next summer I married Wayne D Eckman, and we had 9 children, 29 grancdhildren, and 18 great grandchildren. My husband passed away in February, 2016. I taught piano lessons many of those years, and I have quite a musical family. My oldest son Wayne Miles Eckman was in the Tabernacle Choir, 6 years, and after age 60, was dismissed. He is now a Patriarch, and I live with him in West Bountiful. He is also a very accomplished accordionist. My youngest son, Jeremy, is a very accomplished pianist also, and has taught lessons. I myself have several compositions, and piano and choir arrangements on, and . I am now 83 years old, and still teach several students, and I quote Dr. Crawford Gates often, when he told me "Never play a mistake! Play slow enough in practice that you never make a mistake, and then when you learn it well you won't make mistakes!" (in words similar to that.) He has been my inspiration ever since 1954, and I have been interested in hearing what he has done over the years. My love to you, Sister Gates and your dear family .

Marilyn Nielsen

June 23, 2018

Dear Georgia and Family,

With love and fond memories of Crawford I send my love to you my dear cousin Georgia. So sorry we haven’t been able to connect more thru the years. I appreciate yours and Crawfords example and musical talents. Was not able to attend the funeral services and hope you receive this note expressing my best wishes to you.

With fond memories , your Lehi cousin thru Grandma Alice Lauper Pernoux Phillips.

Marilyn Anderson Nielsen

Sharol Omer

June 22, 2018

As a student of Bonneville High School in Ogden, Utah, I learned and sang the beautiful school hymn many times, never knowing the story behind its creation. Years later I was asked to organize an ensemble to sing our alma mater at our 20th reunion. That's when I noticed it was written by Crawford Gates. By that time I was familiar with many of his works and, of course, recognized his talented musical signature in the piece.
It made me wonder how little ol' Bonneville was so honored to have him compose our school hymn. I decided to find out the story behind it, and called Brother Gates. He said he had been asked to compose it as a favor to a dear friend, Joseph Graves, who was my school choir director. He wondered if it was still sung? I promised I'd find out and get back to him.
To my great joy, I was able to report that the lyrics are permanently posted to the side of the stage in Bonneville's school auditorium and that the student body sings it after each assembly!
Fast forward many years, and I attended the graduation of my niece at my old alma mater. At the end of the service, the graduating seniors stood (as did the audience), held hands, and sang this moving hymn (all four verses by memory). It brought back so many wonderful memories that I couldn't hold back my tears. Thank you, dear Brother Gates, for being the vehicle the Lord used to touch so many hearts through the years with your inspired gift of music, from orchestral masterpieces, to Pagents, hymns, Primary songs, and yes, my high school alma mater.

Roger Williams

June 21, 2018

With millions I am deeply grateful to the spiritual impact Crawford Gates' music has had on my life. A sweet memory is his tenderness in baptizing his daughter in the East Sharon Stake Center in Provo.

Richard Jones

June 20, 2018

I had the opportunity to sing in a choir under his direction at BYU in the early 50's. A notable event occurred when he fell from his conducting platform. His response was "don't just sit there sing." Most of what I have learned about choral singing I learned from Crawford Gates.

Sandy Ferrenburg (Alkire)

June 20, 2018

Crawford was a wonderful human who was the ward mission leader while I was serving in Beloit on my mission. He was always available for encouragement, dinner and good conversation. He also took us the to the symphony, which was astounding. I am ever so grateful to have met him and even more so to have spent time in his home listening to his stories and admiring his talent. My heart goes out to his family and big hugs to Georgia.