Crawford was motivated for his second year to attend San Jose State College (now University of California at San Jose) mainly because they had a large enough orchestra—unlike the Stockton Symphony—to perform his prize winning piece.

From 1940 to 1942 Gates served a proselyting mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in the “Eastern States Mission.” During his mission Gates was privileged with the opportunity to employ his musical gifts and talents. On occasion he was asked to compose for various missionary choruses. In 1941 he was appointed mission music director and took charge of the eight-voice Mormon Male Chorus of Philadelphia. Under Gates leadership the group auditioned for NBC in Philadelphia and was invited to perform on the weekly radio broadcast. Gates supplied the arrangements. Upon returning home in 1942, just eight months after Pearl Harbor, he interviewed for an officer candidate program in the Navy. He finished his third year at San Jose State in 1942-43 while in the U.S. Navy. While stationed in North Dakota for training he conducted a male chorus and a large dance band. He then was moved to Columbia University for final preliminary Navy training. Here there was a midshipman choir in connection with the Protestant service held on Sunday evening in Manhattan, New York. Gates was elected by his classmates to be the student conductor of the chorus. From September of 1944 to the end of the war in August 1945 he was stationed in Pearl Harbor; while there he fortunately never was sent into combat. This was significant for Gates because he was trained as an amphibious naval officer, a classification with a thirty percent survival rate if engaged in action.

After the war, Gates returned to school and also secured a position as orchestrator for a small thirteen-piece chamber orchestra for KSL radio in Salt Lake City, Utah. This gave him the opportunity to compose arrangements for another weekly radio broadcast. Over time Gates completed a Bachelor of Arts from San Jose State University, a Masters of Arts at Brigham Young University, and a Ph.D. from the Eastman School of Music. Gates studied composition with Leroy Robertson, professor at Brigham Young University, Howard Hanson, and Ernst Bloch and conducting with Eleazar de Carvahlo at Tanglewood and Hans Swarowsky of the Vienna State Opera.

Crawford became acquainted with his wife, Georgia Lauper, by their associations in the music department at BYU, Georgia being a fine accompanist and singer, and through church related musical activities. They were married in Salt Lake City on 19 December 1952, after a short engagement. They are parents of four children, two sons and two daughters, and now have grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

Crawford Gates was a member of the music faculty at Brigham Young University during the summers of 1948 to 1960 and full-time in 1950 to 1966. He was the Chair of BYU’s Music Department from 1960 to 1966. Crawford was a Professor of Music and Artist in Residence at Beloit College in Wisconsin from 1966 to 1989. In addition to being a professor, Gates was also the music director of the Beloit Janesville Symphony Orchestra for thirty-four years (1963-1964 and 1966-1999) where he prepared forty-five orchestral and orchestral-choral arrangements for annual children’s and pops concerts. He served as music director of Quincy Symphony (1969-1970) and the Rockford Symphony (1970-1986) in Illinois.

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