Former Professor, Department Chair, Encore Founder and Trustee was Affiliated with the College for 53 Years

PHOTO: Gert MokotoffMIDDLETOWN, N.Y. –Gertrude Mokotoff, whose affiliation with Orange County Community College dated from her hiring as an instructor in 1965 to her retirement as a member of the Board of Trustees this past May, has passed away at the age of 100.

Services for Mokotoff, who died on Wednesday, Oct. 17, will be held at 11 a.m., Friday, Oct. 19 at Temple Sinai, 75 Highland Avenue in Middletown. Rabbi Marcus Rubenstein will officiate. Interment will follow in the Temple Sinai Cemetery in Circleville. Shiva will be observed at Mokotoff’s home from 3 to 6 p.m. on Friday.

Her retirement from the Board this past May marked the conclusion of 19 years in service to the Board, a tenure that spanned terms from 1992 through 2001 and again from 2008 to 2018. She initially joined the College’s faculty ranks in February 1965, embarking upon a 27-year stint as a professor and department chair of the Medical Laboratory Technology Department.

In that time, she guided the College’s development of the nation’s first two-year associate degree program in electron microscopy. Upon her retirement from the faculty ranks in December 1991, she was granted Faculty Emeritus status.

A dedicated proponent of lifelong learning, Mokotoff was a founding member of the College’s Encore program (for senior learners ages 50 and above) in 1997 and served as president of the organization’s Steering Committee until as recently as 2014.

“For more than five decades, Gert Mokotoff was a positive force for change at Orange County Community College, and her impact on the academic programs, student services, and campus life at the College will be felt for years to come,” said Fred Watson, chair of the SUNY Orange Board of Trustees. "I know that our current Trustees, as well as the many others with whom she served over a 19-year tenure, greatly valued, appreciated and respected her service and her passion.”

PHOTO: Gert Mokotoff at SUNY Orange Commencement in 2013“Gert Mokotoff was a trailblazer and innovator. I can’t imagine where Orange County Community College might be today had we passed on hiring Gert as a medical laboratory technology instructor in 1965,” added Dr. Kristine Young, SUNY Orange president. “She was a distinguished faculty member and department chair for 27 years, and shared 19 additional years with us as a dedicated member of our Board of Trustees.

“I truly treasured Gert. She brought a unique and informed perspective to her role as a Trustee, and her insight has been invaluable to me both personally and professionally. Regardless of where life took her—the classroom, the political arena or in service to her community—she always returned to her beloved Orange County Community College,” Young said. “Her commitment to this College never waned over the past 53 years. She was an extraordinary asset to our Board of Trustees and advocate for our College.”

An innovator, Mokotoff broke many barriers previously believed to be unattainable for women. She injected that same tenacity into her role as a trustee. She pushed the College to become more sustainable, encouraged the adoption of technology and supported growth in the health professions programs, all with an eye toward supporting student success.

She understood that as SUNY Orange students attain their degrees, they often remain in Orange County to work and raise their families, or return to the county after securing advanced degrees. Their success academically leads to greater economic prosperity for the county and improved conditions for all residents.

Mokotoff also did her part to improve her community and the lives of her neighbors. She served 12 years as an elected official within the City of Middletown, including one term as the City’s first-ever female mayor (1990-93). She spent four years as City Council president and four years as Second Ward alderman.

She served on countless boards and committees in the area over the years, including Middletown Thrall Library, League of Women Voters and Temple Sinai. She also volunteered her time to numerous groups, including Jewish Services and the Thrall Library. She was a certified mediator by the Dispute Resolution Center in Goshen.

Mokotoff earned her bachelor’s degree from Brooklyn College in 1938 and her master’s degree from Columbia University in 1964.

Memorial contributions may be made to the Mokotoff Scholarship Fund at SUNY Orange, 115 South Street in Middletown.


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Mike Albright
Communications Officer
115 South Street
Middletown, NY 10940