Not many people can say they’ve completed a marathon, let alone 20. And even fewer can say they’ve accomplished such a feat after the age of 50. But Clifton Maloney, husband of our local Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney, wasn’t just anyone.
To the Maloney family, he was a beloved husband to Carolyn Jane Bosher Maloney and a father to Christina Paul Maloney and Virginia Marshall Maloney. He left behind a mother, Virginia Wells Maloney, and a sister, Virginia Maloney Lawrence, along with eight nieces and nephews.
But even those who didn’t personally know Clifton Maloney can find inspiration in his story. Summers spent at Blue Mountain Lake in the Adirondacks instilled a lifelong passion for mountain climbing, bringing him to the tops of five of the “Seven Summits,” Mount Elbrus, Aconcagua, Mount Vinson, Denali and Mount Kilimanjaro. He served his country in the navy from 1960-1963, and went on to find professional success in finance and real estate, eventually founding his own company. An avid runner, he completed the New York City
Marathon 20 times, finishing as the fastest American in his age group last year. Maloney was also deeply involved with his East Side neighborhood, sitting on the board of Civitas and the New York Foundation for Senior Citizens. He was active in Carnegie Hill Neighbors as well.
At 71, he traveled to his next challenge: Cho Oyu Mountain, part of the Himalayas on the border of Nepal and China. On the morning of Sept. 24, he reached the top, becoming the oldest American to summit an 8,000-meter peak. He spent the night at Base Camp 3 and arrived the next day at Base Camp 2, at 23,000 feet. That night, he died in his sleep. His last words were, “I’m the happiest man in the world. I’ve just summited a beautiful mountain.”
Friend and climbing partner of 18 years, Marty Schmidt, risked his own safety bringing Maloney’s body down the slopes of the mountain. With the help of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and the Chinese government, he was reunited with his family on Oct. 1.
What a full life, and what a passion for exploring both close to home and oceans away. We extend our sympathies to the Maloney family, and hope they take comfort in knowing that Clifton Maloney died peacefully, doing something he clearly loved.
Maloney will be remembered at a funeral, held at the Brick Church on Park Avenue between East 91st and 92nd streets, on Friday, Oct. 9 at 11 a.m. In lieu of flowers, the family is asking for donations to the Clifton H.W. Maloney Scholarship Fund at Princeton University, the Explorers Club or the American Alpine Club.
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