Bernadette, then a sophomore at Fordham’s undergraduate college for women, was selling tickets for the event when John told her he could get her a date if she needed one.
“I asked her to describe the ideal date,” he recalled. “This went on for about a week, and she finally decided to ask me [to the formal]. Being the nutty guy that I am, I didn’t say yes right away.” Instead, he penned an acceptance note and delivered it to her at Duane Library one afternoon. “We both laughed later that day, and the date was set.”
At the formal, the couple—he in a tuxedo and she in a flowing pink gown—danced the night away, enjoying the evening with a close group of friends they met in their first year at Fordham.
Ever since that starry winter night, the couple has been together. “We talked every night at 9:15. That was our thing,” John said. “I am glad she didn’t find the ‘ideal guy,’ but found me instead.”
This spring, the Mulhearns are looking forward to their 50th Fordham Jubilee, and next summer, they celebrate another golden milestone, their 50th wedding anniversary.
Back in college, they might have seemed an unlikely couple at first. Bernadette, an English major, lived with her parents in Yonkers and commuted to school every day in a car her parents gave her. “It was a candy apple red Mustang,” she said. “That made it worth the trip!”
John, who studied economics, lived in off-campus housing, then in campus dorms in his junior and senior years. He was born in Jersey City and his family, which includes two brothers and two sisters, moved several times throughout his childhood—they lived in Minnesota, Iowa, upstate New York, and then Bronxville.
But as they got to know one another, Bernadette and John discovered they had much in common. They enjoyed attending weekend football games, sitting on the sidelines at Fordham basketball games—especially during the 1970–1971 season, when coach Digger Phelps led the Rams to a 26-3 record—and socializing with their friends every Friday night at the Ramskeller.
Bernadette reflects on her years at Fordham’s Thomas More College fondly. She was involved in student government, serving first as class president and later as president of the student body. She also sang in the Women’s Chorale.
“I had a lot of interaction with Dean Barbara Wells, and they let us [women students] help them develop the curriculum for the humanities program,” Bernadette said. “At first, I was shocked that they would let us have so much input. I felt very privileged and honored that they took us seriously. I really enjoyed every minute I was there.”
John was also deeply involved in campus life, and even co-founded a fraternal organization with friends.
“We were about 60 strong,” he recalled. “We did a lot of charity work with the Y and other groups on campus. We also played football. It was supposed to be touch football, but it ended up being tackle football. We played neighborhood teams and were even undefeated one year!”
After graduating, John began his career with AT&T in Boston, and Bernadette continued her education at Manhattanville College in Purchase, New York, where she studied education. But the couple stayed in close touch and, one year after they graduated, they were married at Christ the King Church in Yonkers.
John spent three decades at AT&T, then moved to the telecommunications company, Global Crossing, in 2000, where he served as an executive vice president, global access management, until 2011. He and his brother then launched a consulting firm, New Vistas Management, where he is currently CEO. The company specializes in energy conservation through the improvement of HVAC systems.
Over the years, John’s career took the family to Connecticut, New Jersey, and even Toronto before they returned to New Jersey, where they live today. Their children—Aileen, Christine, and Gregory—all graduated from the College of the Holy Cross and live close by.
Through it all, the Mulhearns have remained connected to Fordham. Longtime supporters of the Fordham Fund, they are members of the Doty Society, which recognizes donors who have given to the University for 20 years or more. And as Jubilee leaders, they are excited to return to campus this year to reminisce with their former classmates at the Golden Rams Dinner & Soiree on Friday, June 3.
They are also active in St. Joseph’s Church in Mendham, where Bernadette is a Eucharistic Minister and lector. John enjoys playing golf in his free time and runs a golf league at the local country club. They enjoy spending time with their family, which includes seven grandchildren, who range in age from a fourth grader to a first-year student at Holy Cross.
“We’re less than 15 minutes away from each other,” Bernadette said. “You couldn’t plan that if you tried. The beauty of having [grandchildren] so close is that we’ve been a part of their lives as they’re growing up. We are the luckiest people in the world.”
After virtual gatherings in 2020 and 2021, Jubilee 2022 will be held in person on the Rose Hill campus from June 3 to 5. The alumni relations office anticipates welcoming its largest group of Jubilarians ever. Learn more and register today.