By Nathan Duke
U.S. Rep. Carolyn Maloney’s (D-Astoria) husband died in his sleep last week on a Tibetan mountain shortly after having scaled its 27,000-foot peak, the congresswoman’s office announced Saturday.
Clifton H.W. Maloney, 71, died Friday after having reached the summit of Tibet’s Cho Oyu mountain, near the border of China, and then descending to a base camp at 23,000 feet, according to a statement from the congresswoman’s family on her Facebook page.
His last words before falling asleep were, “I’m the happiest man in the world. I’ve just summitted a beautiful mountain,” according to the statement. Shortly thereafter, he fell asleep and did not wake back up, the statement said.
Maloney’s climb makes him the oldest American to ever summit an 8,000-meter peak.
The American Embassy in Katmandu, Nepal, was working on bringing Maloney’s body down from the mountain and back to the United States, a spokesman for Maloney said.
“It’s not the easiest part of the world because there are flight restrictions,” the spokesman said.
The cause of death had not yet been determined and an autopsy was expected to take place once Maloney’s body was retrieved, the spokesman said.
Clifton Maloney, born in 1937 in Philadelphia, served in the U.S. Navy and graduated from Princeton University and Harvard Business School. He worked at several financial service companies, such as The City Management Corp. and New York Securities Co., and became a vice president at Goldman, Sachs & Co. in 1974. In 1981, he founded his own investment firm, C.H.W. Maloney & Co.
He had been known for being an athlete and had participated in the New York City Marathon 20 times, according to a family obituary. In 2008, he finished as the fastest American in his age group during the city race.
Clifton Maloney was an avid mountain climber and had scaled five of the Seven Summits, including Mount Elbrus, Aconcagua, Mount Vinson, Denali and Mount Kilminajaro. He was a long-time member of the Explorer’s Club and the American Alpine Club.
Carolyn Maloney was first elected to the House in 1992 as a representative for Astoria, Long Island City and Manhattan’s East Side. She had previously served on the City Council. Last summer, she dropped her bid to challenge U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) in the 2010 Democratic primary, saying she would instead use her leadership positions to push through bills in the House.
The Maloneys married in 1976 and have two daughters, Christine and Virginia Maloney.
The family has not yet planned a memorial service for Clifton Maloney, the congresswoman’s spokesman said.
Western Queens elected officials said they were sad to hear of Clifton Maloney’s death.
“My heart goes out to Congresswoman Maloney and her family during this most difficult time,” state Assemblyman Michael Gianaris (D-Astoria) said. “Losing a loved one is never easy, but it is all the more difficult when it happens so unexpectedly. May they take solace in the fact that Cliff was doing what he loved when he passed. May his memory be eternal and may he rest in peace.”
Reach reporter Nathan Duke by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 156.