If you knew Norm, you heard his stories, probably numerous times. The one about him being born on the boat when his parents emigrated from Italy—but he was actually born in Greenville, Pennsylvania in 1934. There were tales of his “misspent youth,” including bringing home hundreds of dollars to his mother after hustling people at the pool hall, and explaining that he would not be taking that job at the post office paying $1.50 an hour that she wanted him to get. And how after telling the Nuns at his high school he wouldn’t go to college unless he could go to Notre Dame, they filled out his application, sent it in, and he indeed, got into Notre Dame.
After graduating from college in 1956 with a Bachelor’s in Civil Engineering, Norm spent two years with the Army on a top secret assignment that was so secret, on the first day he was lost in the Pentagon as no one knew where he was supposed to be.
In June 1957, he married Jan Eisler and after his time in the Army, moved to Ohio to work with a well-known developer building shopping plazas and malls. Norm moved his growing family up to Buffalo in 1964 to get into the commercial development business with friends, Al Stangel and Bob Mariacher.
He left that partnership in 1965 to start his own engineering and architecture firm with partners, Al Weber and James Renaldo, Weber, DiDonato & Renaldo. Over the years, the other partners left the business and Norm continued on his own as DiDonato Associates. His son John DiDonato, who joined the company in 1985 while attending UB, and long-time employee, Greg Hewitt, became partners in 1989.
Norm was a registered Professional Engineer in New York and Ohio.