CANTON, N.Y. (WWTI) — Although many know the song “I’ll Be Home for Christmas,” some might not realize it has a direct connection to St. Lawrence University.
The song was written by J. Kimball “Kim” Gannon who was a 1924 graduate of the University. While attending St. Lawrence he was a member of the University’s Glee Club, golf team, and the Mummers which is a student theatrical organization that performed annual Christmas and Commencement plays. He also performed throughout the North Country.
His “I’ll Be Home for Christmas” was popularized by Bing Crosby in 1943 and became a top-10 hit that year, joining “White Christmas” to become one of America’s most popular homegrown holiday songs, according to the U.S. Library of Congress.
When Gannon died in 1974, his will stipulated that St. Lawrence would receive 30% of the royalties from his compositions after his wife’s death. His widow was Norma Allen Gannon who also graduated from St. Lawrence in 1925. She passed away 26 years after her husband in 2000.
Since then, the University has received a monthly check, representing the royalties paid each time one of Gannon’s songs is performed, used in a movie or television program, played on an airplane’s sound system, or streamed online with services such as Spotify, Amazon Music or Apple Music. Since September 2000, St. Lawrence has received more than $631,000 in royalties from Gannon’s music, with more than $35,000 earned annually.
According to the University, the gift supports the St. Lawrence Fund, the University’s annual fund which supports every student, every day. Gannon’s gift is then used where it is needed most including scholarships, internships, student support services, and campus enhancements.
The University will continue to receive the funds for the next three decades. More information on Gannon’s life and contribution to St. Lawrence University can be found here.