Alpha Phi Delta Foundation

Chapter Histories - Mu Chapter

Mu Chapter in General

Mu Chapter is Founded: 1922

Shortly before Christmas, on December 22, 1922, our Mu Chapter was installed at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York. Mu Chapter was the ninth chapter to be chartered in New York State when it was brought on board

An early history of Mu Chapter, courtesy of the Alpha Phi Delta National Archives, describes Mu's founding in these words:

"In the spring of 1922, Brother Contiguglia, of Syracuse, informed one of us that there existed a national collegiate fraternity named Alpha Phi Delta which was composed entirely of American-Italians, and suggested that a University, such as Cornell, surely should not lack a chapter... We went to [faculty member] Giorgio de Grassi — laid before him the idea. His enthusiasm was unbounded! We went about the campus dreaming and wondering if ever it would be. Soon.... we were ready. 

It was not until the return to classes in the fall of 1922 that the Grand Officers of Alpha Phi Delta were duly notified that a group of undergraduates were desirous and ready to be initiated as members and duly installed as a chapter. After due investigation and approval, the proper and duly accredited officers arrived in Ithaca—and on the afternoon and evening of December 22, 1922, in Giorgio de Grassi's [home at] 111 West Green Street, Ithaca, New York, Mu Chapter was born. 

The founding members of the chapter were Giorgio Ippolito de Grassi, Frater in Facultate, Galliano Addonizio, Jacob Robert Firneno, Patrick Vincent Mercolino, Frank Joseph Pagliaro, Anthony Frank Angello, Frederick William Colucci, Francis Rizzo, Frank Francis Di Giovanna, Joseph Anton Latona, Charles Bartholomew Maretzo."

Mu Chapter  was a strong chapter, and though its numbers dwindled to single-digits during World War II, it never closed. Mu was the heart of the Fraternity's "Second District" (Upstate New York) for many, many years. The Chapter, sadly closed in 1968. It was briefly reactivated in 2012, but closed again in 2017. The Chapter remains inactive; its lifespan was 1922-1967, 2012-2017. Pictured above are our Iota Chapter members in 1927.

The Navy and the Mu Chapter House

At the outbreak of World War II, a request was made of Mu chapter by the United States Navy, by way of Cornell University. With the onset of war reducing the number of men on campus, thus reducing, greatly, the size of the Chapter, it was asked if the Chapter would be willing to turn over its house for the Navy's V-12 program. The Chapter responded well, with good grace and a patriotism, and handed the keys to its home at 515 Stewart Avenue, Ithaca, New York, to the armed forces.  

What did the Chapter do, with its house gone and its Chapter in the mid-single digits in size? Well, according to Chapter Consul (President),  Richard Angiulli, this is what followed: 

"Mu Chapter ... moved into an apartment. Sam D'Antonino, Tony Guzzol, "Gig" Giffone and yours truly got together and decided to set up light housekeeping. So we use [the apartment] as the center of Mu's activities. We hold meetings here as well as smokers [rush meetings] and even dances. The next affair on our social program is a party for Alpha Phi Deltans in uniform. Recently, Brother Joseph Alaimo, 2nd District Pro-Consul [Governor], was here to present us with the Most Improved Chapter Award." 

He added that there was still a strong fraternal spirit, "despite the war."

For its sacrifice, Mu had gained the respect and admiration from the faculty and student body for their exemplary conduct. After the war, the Chapter quickly grew and realized it needed to re-establish itself on campus -- and needed a house for its swelling ranks. And Deus ex Machina, the Navy gave their home at 515 Stewart Avenue back to them.  And it remained their home for years to come.

Mu Chapter - Individuals

Joseph Alaimo

Grand Consul 1950-52

Mu '28

Joseph W. Alaimo was born March 15, 1910, in Caltanisetta, Sicily, Italy to Crisipino and Maria Alaimo. In 1913 his parents migrated to Rochester, New York. He graduated from West High School in Rochester, and then enrolled at Cornell University in 1927. As an undergraduate he majored in psychology and then after earning his Bachelor of Science degree, he entered Cornell Law School. Alaimo was admitted to the New York State Bar in 1938. He conducted a private law practice in Rochester, which was focused on trial work.

Brother Alaimo’s civic, social and fraternal interests were very wide and diverse. He served as President of Il Solco, an Italian Culture organization in Rochester, President of the Community Broadcasting Company, and many professional bar associations.

The possessor of a fine tenor voice, Alaimo was a member of the Rochester Community Players and participated in several operas sponsored by the Rochester Civic Music Association with guest stars from the Metropolitan Opera Company.

Active since his initiation at Cornell University on May 19, 1928, Alaimo served as Tribune of Mu Chapter, and later worked to organize the Genesee Valley Alumni Club. He served as Second District Pro Consul in the Fraternity’s Upstate New York region in 1946 and was Chairman of the 1948 National Convention (which was held in Rochester, New York, his hometown). Brother Alaimo was elected Grand Consul in 1950 and was re-elected to that post in 1951.

In 1940, Alaimo married the former Charlotte Louisa Maria Porfirio, the Alaimos had five children together: daughters, Tina, Arlene, Janice, Elizabeth, and a son, Joseph. After a battle with cancer, Brother Alaimo passed away on March 4, 1977.

Giorgio Ippolito De Grassi

Mu Founder and Faculty Advisor

Mu '22

A founder of our Mu Chapter, the story of Giorgio de Grassi was best told in 1947, at the time of the Chapter's 25th Anniversary, with this homage by Brother Ralph Pierleoni, Mu '41. This homage was prepared one year before de Grassi would retire from Cornell University.

"Giorgio de Grassi, beloved Dean and Counselor of Mu Chapter, was born in Sorrento, Italy, on October 3, 1878, his birthday being officially registered in the municipality of Bari on the 9th of that same month. His father, Ferdinand de Grassi, was a native of Monfalcone (Province of Trieste) and an engineer-architect by profession; he went to Sorrento to direct the construction of a railroad line from Naples to Benevento. The family ancestors originally came from France, as is evidenced by the name.

"Brother de Grassi was, in his early youth, educated under the guidance of a Jesuit Father, who became his private tutor. He then joined the liceo and ginnasio (Italian schools corresponding to our high school and academy respectively) of Taranto (near Bari and also part of the region known as Le Puglie). Later on, he attended the University of Genoa to study International Law, and graduated from there in 1907.

"He came to the U. S. in 1909, with a commission from the Italian Government to investigate the bank panic involving many Italian banks. Proceeding to Ithaca in 1910, he met a certain Professor Crane, friend of Professor Giuseppe Pitre in Italy. Professor Crane's daughter introduced him to Miss Alice King, who later became Mrs. de Grassi. They were married in April of 1910, went abroad on their honeymoon, and returned to Ithaca in October of the same year, at which time he was placed on the library staff of Cornell University and made the head of the book classification department; and that has been his position here at Cornell for 36 years, during which period of time he has rendered invaluable service to the university.

"Commissioned an officer in the U. S. Army in February of 1918, he served with the infantry in France as liaison officer attached to the French Third Army Carps, and he was awarded the Croix de Guerre and the title of Officier d'academie for his outstanding military record.

"The rest of Brother de Grassi's life history, or 'Curriculum Vitae,' as he prefers to call it, is well known to most of us older boys, undergrads, grads and alumni of Mu, but for the benefit of the other chapters, it is well to cite the more important and significant phases, with relation to his participation in fraternal matters. 

"In October of 1922. he was one of the first to take action and bring to fruition what had been his most cherished aspiration, the founding of an Alpha Phi Delta chapter at Cornell University. At his suggestion also, Professer Donald Finlayson of Cornell's Department of Fine Arts was accepted as an honorary member of Mu. The latter has given much of his time and effort to the chapter, as our representative and ambassador of good will on the University staff, and he and Brother de Grassi gave of themselves unstintingly to keep Mu alive throughout the critical years of the past conflict [World War II].

"Brother de Grassi expects to retire next year, but he says he'll always be part of Alpha Phi Delta, "body and soul." His sole remaining ambition and goal in life is to see Mu recapture the spirit of old, and he strongly urges the alumni to support the mother chapter during this post-war period."

Brother de Grassi, it should be noted, was of Italian royalty. He was the son of Count Ferdinando de Grassi, whose family was originally from the Lombardy region of Italy. In addition to what was mentioned in the homage above, de Grassi was also a teacher of Italian for many years at Cornell. Later in his retirement, de Grassi moved to California, where he died on June 30, 1963 at the age of 85.