Barbara Hillary, pioneer of the top (and bottom) of the world, dies at 88

Barbara Hillary, the first black woman ever to reach the North Pole, aged 75, and the first black woman to reach the South Pole, aged 79, died Saturday at her home in Far Rockaway, Queens Died in hospital. She was 88 years old.

Her death was announced on her website.about her posts twitter account Said her health had been declining in recent months. She had breast cancer in her 20s and lung cancer in her 60s.

No woman was on top of the world until 1986, when Minnesota gym teacher and explorer Ann Bancroft became the first. In 1909, the first black man was Matthew Henson, who set foot on the North Pole with Robert E. Peary.

Ms Hillary sought adventure after her retirement from a 55-year career as a nurse, dog sledding in Quebec and photographing polar bears in Manitoba. Then she learns that no African-American woman has ever reached the North Pole, and challenges herself to be the first, even though she has no money, no organizational support, and has lost 25 percent of her ability to breathe due to lung cancer surgery.

The expedition required her to ski, something she had never done before. In 2007, she told The Seattle Times, “it wasn’t a popular sport in Harlem, where she grew up.”

To prepare for the hike, she took cross-country ski lessons and hired a personal trainer. She started eating more vegetables, increasing her vitamin intake and lifting weights. She raised the necessary $25,000, mostly through donations for equipment and transportation.

There are limited ways to reach the North Pole, which lies in the middle of the Arctic Ocean, where the waters are almost permanently covered by moving sea ice. Ms Hillary signed on to the expedition with outfitter Eagles Cry Adventures and was flown by helicopter to Base Camp in Norway, about 30 miles from the North Pole.

On April 23, 2007, another helicopter took her to a point on the ice “within skiing distance of the North Pole,” Ms. Hillary told The New Yorker magazine later that year. Accompanied by the departure.

The Seattle Times reported: “Hilary struggled under a mountain of gear and kept going as the sun gleamed off the ice, distorting her vision. Once at the pole, she was ecstatic, forgetting the cold, He also took off his gloves, causing frostbite on his fingers.”

Ms Hillary told The New Yorker: “I’ve never experienced such pure joy and excitement. For the first few minutes, I was screaming and jumping up and down.”

This expedition only whetted her appetite for more. Four years later, on January 6, 2011, she stood at the South Pole.

Ms Hilary initially took these hikes for the thrill and the beauty of the scenery, but she came to understand that climate change was wreaking havoc on the planet, especially the poles, and began speaking on the subject. She also became a motivational speaker.

This year, at 87, she ventured to Outer Mongolia to visit a nomadic tribe whose rural way of life is disappearing due to climate change and desertification of the grasslands.

These expeditions were not without creature comforts. In Antarctica, for example, she indulged—perhaps overly obsessed—with her love of milk chocolate. As she told The New York Times in 2011, “Wouldn’t it be sad if I froze to death in there, if I didn’t get what I wanted and went to hell?”

barbara hillary Born June 12, 1931 in Manhattan. Her father died when she was 2 years old. Her mother, Viola Jones Hillary, immigrated from South Carolina to New York in the 1930s to provide Barbara and her younger sister, Dorothy, with a good education. She cleaned houses for a living and raised her daughter alone in Harlem.

Barbara loves to read and was drawn to books about surviving extreme environments. “Robinson Crusoe” is one of her favorites.

“We’re poor,” Ms Hillary said at the 2017 graduation ceremony of her alma mater, the New School (formerly the New School for Social Research). “We’re depressed, but there’s no such thing as mental poverty in our family.”

As a student at The New School, Ms. Hilary majored in gerontology and earned her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in the discipline before becoming a nurse.

In Far Rockaway, she founded the Arvin Action Society, which aims to improve life in the community. She also founded and served as editor-in-chief of Peninsula Magazine, which covered the Rockaways.

In addition to working as a nurse, Ms. Hillary sometimes drives a taxi, friend Deborah Bogosian told 1010 WINS radio in New York. She also enjoys “archery, guns and knives, big trucks and big dogs,” Ms. Bogosian said, and grows roses and tomatoes.

In 2007, Ms. Hillary shared with The New Yorker some of her tips for living a good life: “One, mind your own business; two, keep a sense of humor; and three, tell a guy to go to hell when he needs to. “

When she spoke at commencement, she offered this advice to New School graduates: “At every stage of your life, look at your options. Please don’t choose boring ones.”

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