Business Alumni Maintain Lifelong Friendship

Christopher Didio ’84 and Daniel Gilheney ’84 began their friendship in kindergarten when they were just 5 years old. They grew up together and attended Bishop Ludden High School in Syracuse, New York, where Didio was on the track and field team. Less than an hour away, Charlie Colligan ’84 was on the track and field team at Cazenovia High School, a rival team.

The three of them, in addition to Alex Orlando ’84, who grew up in Seneca Falls, New York, would independently apply to Ithaca College and go on to develop a lifelong friendship that has lasted over 30 years. The four of them have since been at all of one another’s major life events: weddings, graduation parties, and children’s high school athletic events. And they’ve never missed a family funeral. 

“While we may not see or speak with each other every day, this group is always there when you need them,” Colligan said. “I know that my friends — no, my brothers — are always only a phone call away.” 

Now, the friends make it a point to get together about two or three times a year, and they’ve been doing this for 30 consecutive years. During the spring, they gather at Gilheney’s house for what they call “Masters Sunday” to enjoy the final round of the season’s first major golf tournament. In December, they have an annual Christmas dinner at a restaurant in Auburn, New York — they’ve tried multiple restaurants over the years — where they catch up on each other’s lives and exchange small gifts, usually branded merchandise from their respective companies. 

Colligan is a vice president and sales executive with CUNA Mutual Group, and Orlando is the chief financial officer for Eagle International Institute Inc. Didio and Gilheney currently work at competing CPA firms in central New York, but Didio said this has never affected their friendship.

“You really need to separate business and friendships sometimes. We always put our friendship first,” Didio said.

All four of them had majors in the School of Business: Didio, Gilheney, and Orlando were accounting majors, while Colligan majored in business management.

“As we developed our friendship, all the things that you do in college we started doing together,” Orlando said. “We played on the intramural basketball team together, we weightlifted together, and obviously we partied together.”

“People don’t think accountants are very much fun, but we had some nice parties with the accounting club,” Didio said. During their senior year, the four of them lived in a Garden Apartment with two other guys: Emory White ’84 and Bill Corvene ’84. 

The four friends still take time to reminisce their time at the college. There was the night they imitated professional wrestlers. There was the time they got their ears pierced. And of course, there was White’s pet canary, Maurice. 

“I think that while college is certainly about your academics, there’s some bigger things that can really help you in the foundation of your life,” Orlando said. “Man, when you can end up with friends like I did from college, it’s just very special, and as you get older, you’re really grateful for that.”