Barbara Hillary, 1st Black Woman at North, South Poles, Dies

Hillary was born in San Juan Hill, raised in Harlem and went to the New School University in New York City

Obit-Barbara Hillary
Richard Drew/AP

What to Know

  • Barbara Hillary, who was in her 70s when she became the first black woman to officially make it to the North and South Poles, has died at 88
  • Her death at a hospital in Far Rockaway, Queens, was announced Saturday on her Twitter account
  • Hillary was born in San Juan Hill, raised in Harlem and went to the New School University in New York City

Barbara Hillary, who was in her 70s when she became the first black woman to officially make it to the North and South Poles, has died at 88.

Her death at a hospital in Far Rockaway, Queens, was announced Saturday on her Twitter account, which said she had gone through "significant health decline in recent months." It was also announced on her website.

Hillary reached the North Pole in 2007 at the age of 75, and the South Pole in 2011 at age 79.

She had retired from a nursing career and survived separate occurrences of breast and lung cancer when she started traveling in the Arctic.

She took on the challenge of making it to the Poles after learning no black woman was on record as having done so.

Afterward, she became a public speaker.

Hillary was born in San Juan Hill, raised in Harlem and went to the New School University in New York City where she earned both her Bachelor of Arts and master's degrees, according to her website.

Contact Us