Gertrude Mokotoff, who was 71 when she became the first female mayor of Middletown, New York, and who drew even wider attention more than a quarter of a century later by marrying a 94-year-old man when she was 98, died Oct. 17 at a hospital in that city. She was 100.
The cause was congestive heart failure, her eldest daughter, Susan Reverby, said.
“My mother has always been a very bold woman,” Reverby told The New York Times in August 2017.
Reverby was interviewed then for a Times “Vows” article about her mother’s wedding only days earlier to Alvin Mann, a retired businessman and fellow nonagenarian. Both had been widowed from previous marriages. They had been introduced to each other at the gym where they both worked out twice a week. The article quickly found a remarkably wide readership online.
She was born Gertrude Fox on Aug. 20, 1918, in Brooklyn to Anna and Abraham Fox, a tailor. She graduated from Brooklyn College and received a master’s degree in education from Columbia University before marrying, at 23, Dr. Reuben Mokotoff, a cardiologist from Manhattan.
Eleven years later, the couple moved to Middletown, where Reuben Mokotoff set up a new practice and Gertrude Mokotoff became a biology professor at Orange County Community College (now known as SUNY Orange).
She was twice elected an alderwoman in Middletown, winning her second election by a single vote. She went on to become City Council president before running for mayor as a Democrat.
She took the oath as mayor in January 1990, for the first of back-to-back two-year terms.
“She always had an interest in helping other people,” Reverby said. “Despite being a Democrat in a largely Republican town, she was still elected mayor, which gives you a pretty good idea as to how people around here felt about her.”
In addition to Reverby, Mokotoff is survived by her husband; another daughter, Eve Mokotoff; two sons, David and Charles, a well-known classical guitarist; nine grandchildren; and six great-grandchildren. She is also survived by her stepson, Mark Mann, and a step-granddaughter.