He held on tighter with each passing season, and then in June, after one of their many late-night drives home from the Metropolitan Opera House in Manhattan, she decided to buck tradition.
“I asked him to marry me,” she said with a chuckle. “I was tired of chasing after him.”
He obliged her on Aug. 5 at Middletown City Hall, where they exchanged vows before Mayor Joseph DeStefano and 50 family members and close friends. (Fred Fox, the bride’s older brother, who lives in Los Angeles, could not attend but sent along best wishes to his little sister.)
When their guitarist began strumming “Somewhere Over the Rainbow,” Ms. Mokotoff, clutching a small bouquet of white roses, emerged from a side room and began walking slowly toward her future husband, his eyes welling with tears.
Everyone in the old courtroom was smiling, especially Father Time.
“This is like an early birthday gift,” Ms. Mokotoff said before joining hands with Mr. Mann.
She was looking ahead to Aug. 20, a day when the newlyweds will most likely have to work together to blow out the candles on Ms. Mokotoff’s birthday cake — all 99 of them.
“So I’m 99, 98, it’s just a number,” Ms. Mokotoff said. “But today, I’m still 98, right? So let’s not rush things.”
Mr. Mann, who is 94 and received a bachelor’s degree in history last year from Mount St. Mary College in Newburgh, N.Y., agreed that when it comes to being old as opposed to feeling old, the numbers don’t always add up the same.
“Age doesn’t mean a damn thing to me or to Gert,” he said. “We don’t see it as a barrier. We still do what we want to do in life.”
Long before they were introduced in the gym, the lives of Ms. Mokotoff, a former mayor of Middletown, and Mr. Mann, a retired businessman, had fully taken shape.