Gates wrote nearly 900 musical compositions and arrangements during his lifetime, creating and directing musical works in almost every form and style. In the late 1950s, he worked alongside choreographer and director Bob Fosse, helping to write music for the Tony Award-winning Broadway musical “Redhead.” In 1970, he wrote a 600-page score for “Promised Valley,” a musical drama celebrating the entry of pioneers into the Salt Lake Valley. Gates also wrote a noted original score for the Hill Cumorah Pageant, an annual theatrical production held in upstate New York about the origins of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
While he was a devoted teacher and mentor to many Beloit students, Gates was also contributing to the cultural life of Beloit, the city he and his family called home for 30 years. He served as music director and conductor of the Beloit-Janesville Symphony Orchestra from 1963 to 1999 and was simultaneously the maestro of the Rockford Symphony Orchestra from 1970 to 1986. When Gates received a Headliner Award from the Beloit Daily News, editor Bill Barth called him “a cultural treasure who has contributed enormously to this community’s quality of life.”
Gates did his undergraduate work at San Jose State University, completed a master’s degree at Brigham Young University, and earned his Ph.D. from the Eastman School of Music. He was a veteran of World War II, having served as a communications officer in the U.S. Navy.
Survivors include his wife, Georgia, four children, 14 grandchildren, and 28 great-grandchildren.