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'I'll Be Home For Christmas' Composer Left Lasting Gift

CANTON — One of the season’s most beloved Christmas songs also gives back to St. Lawrence University each and every time it is played on the radio.

J. Kimball “Kim” Gannon, who graduated from St. Lawrence in 1924, composed “I’ll Be Home For Christmas” along with Walter Kent and Buck Ram. Bing Crosby first recorded the song in 1943 for Decca Records. The song became a top-10 hit during the mid-1940s, as Americans were in the midst of World War II.

Gannon, who also wrote St. Lawrence's alma mater, left the University a portion of his royalties from all of his compositions in his will. Gannon died in 1974 and his will stipulated that St. Lawrence receive 30 percent of the royalties from his compositions after his wife's death. His widow, Norma Allen Gannon, St. Lawrence Class of 1925, passed away in 2000.

For 2013, Gannon’s music has already earned St. Lawrence University nearly $34,000, and Christmas hasn’t even arrived yet. Since September 2000, St. Lawrence has gained $378,842 from the royalties of Gannon's music.

Since its 1943 debut, “I'll Be Home For Christmas” has been re-recorded countless times. In 2010, a recording of by Amy Grant was the 10th most played holiday song, according to American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP), being played a total of 20,478 times. This year, the song was recorded by Britain’s “Got Talent’s” contestant Susan Boyle, Christian rock group, 33Miles, and Canadian recording artist Michael Bublé.

Gannon’s other popular songs include big-band standards “Moonlight Cocktail,” recorded in 1942 by Glenn Miller; “A Dreamer’s Holiday,” recorded in 1949 by Perry Como; and “I Understand,” recorded at different times by Nat King Cole, Dave Brubeck and Jimmy Dorsey.

Listen to St. Lawrence University's Laurentian Singers perform "I'll Be Home For Christmas."