The Trojan Nation lost one of its heroines on January 14 when Cheryl Colley DiChiara passed away after a courageous fight against COVID-19. At the same time, the city of Troy lost a shining example of how a home-town girl exemplifies faith, family and service.
“Cheryl Colley DiChiara was a model alumna and a true Trojan,” said Chancellor Dr. Jack Hawkins, Jr. “She was also a dedicated medical professional who was an integral part of her husband’s medical practice and an integral part of this community.”
A nurse by education, DiChiara was a home-grown phenom, graduating from Charles Henderson High School in 1969 as head majorette, then coming to Troy State University and the Sound of the South, in which she was a majorette as well. She earned her bachelor’s degree in nursing from the University and was a member of Phi Mu.
“For more than a half century the Colley family has been special to Troy University and that relationship was extended through Mickey and Cheryl Colley DiChiara,” Dr. Hawkins said. “In fact, Mickey succeeded Drs. J.O. “Tip” & Jim Colley as University physician. Cheryl was one of five Colley daughters to graduate from Troy University— all members of the Sound of The South.”
A die-hard Trojan, DiChiara was also known as a lady who focused on her family and her faith above all else.
“Cheryl DiChiara was the heart of St. Martin of Tours parish,” said Michael Orlofsky. “She was a regular presence at every religious or social event taking place at the church . . . and was an active planner and participant in every ‘joyous celebration’ hosted by the parish. She was present at every walk-of-faith continuing education session, and even the appearance of St. Martin literally bears her influence as she advised the recent building renovation committee.”
Orlofsky said that commitment included mothering many students.
“She was an active and concerned mother figure to many of the Catholic students at Troy University. Over the years, Cheryl fed more of them than can be counted,” he said. “Cheryl DiChiara will be dearly missed. A consolation to her family is that the parish to which she was so devoted continues in health and spirit.”
She enjoyed extending a welcoming arm for her Phi Mu sisters as well.
“We lost an amazing person in our community and a Phi Mu sister,” said Stacey McGilvray, a Phi Mu alumna. “She always went above and beyond in her role as Phi Mu alumna. She graciously opened up her home to the Kappa Gamma Chapter for many, many years hosting our Bid Day events. The Kappa Gamma Chapter of Phi Mu will never forget her legacy.”
Barbara Patterson, director of student involvement, echoed Orlofsky’s sentiments. When Patterson arrived in Troy in 1986, it was DiChiara who was among the first to welcome her and make her feel at home.
“Cheryl’s faith and family was foremost in her life and she was never shy to say how much she loved them,” she said.