Sir Ed Hillary's sister June Carlile remembered as a friend of the Himalayan Trust

June Carlile, sister of the late Sir Edmund Hillary, has died in her 100th year. PHOTO/Glenn Jeffrey
June Carlile, sister of the late Sir Edmund Hillary, has died in her 100th year. PHOTO/Glenn Jeffrey

Sir Edmund Hillary's adventurous sister has died just seven months shy of becoming a centenarian.

June Carlile died on November 19, aged 99 years.

Sir Edmund Hillary died eight years ago from heart failure. He was 88.

Hillary and Nepalese Sherpa Tenzing Norgay were the first climbers confirmed to have reached the summit of Mt Everest.

Hillary's daughter Sarah Hillary said her aunty was a matriarch and a lover of life.

"She found the world an interesting place and really enjoyed people. Even the week before she died she was keen to keep going out and see what was going on.

"She had a great dignity and graciousness about her. She was a very intelligent person and thoughtful."

Carlile was born in 1917 in the Waikato town of Tuakau, the eldest of Gertude and Percy Hillary's three children.

The tribute that was written by daughter Hilary Carlile revealed Carlile to be clever, fun and adventurous. Aged 11 she won a full scholarship to Diocesan School and she vied to be top of the school against her best friend.

"They used to say Ed had the brains, Rex had the looks and June was the girl!! I think she felt it took the pressure off her and she went on to graduate with a masters in psychology," the tribute revealed.

June Carlile with her nephew's daughter. PHOTO/supplied
June Carlile with her nephew's daughter. PHOTO/supplied

While attending teachers college Carlile was given the opportunity to complete a science degree at the University of New Zealand as the education department were short on science teachers. It was here she discovered her love of outdoor adventures with the University Tramping Club.

When she turned 30 Carlile set off to study psychology in California but got distracted by the post-war frivolity in England. There she had a ball. She got a teaching position and was always dashing into London to meet friends. It was there she met her future husband.

"When Jimmy Carlile came on the scene a number of suitors were rapidly dropped. He had been a civilian POW in Changi and was hungry to live life fully. June was excited at being in London and exploring life in England and Europe. It was a great combination," explained the tribute.

The couple married in 1949. While pregnant with her third child Carlile completed her masters in psychology.

The young family moved to the English town of Norwhich where Carlile worked as a clinical psychologist at Hellesdon Hospital until she retired aged 60. Jimmy worked as a doctor at a general practice. The family made their own fun with ice skating in particularly cold winters and sailing, a sport James was more enthralled in than Carlile.

Sir Edmund Hillary died eight years ago from heart failure. He was 88.  Photo / File
Sir Edmund Hillary died eight years ago from heart failure. He was 88. Photo / File

1976 was a tumultuous year for the family. Carlile made her first trip to Nepal, a place that would come to mean a lot to her, and then her husband died of a massive heart attack months later.

"He left a big hole in her life," the tribute stated.

"That life was boring without Jimmy. Alistair and I persuaded her to keep the boat Supa Nova, and so began her personal adventures."

Carlile sailed the boat to France and through Mediterranean canals, worked as a psychologist in Wellington for a year before volunteering in Thailand for two years. She taught parents how to make developmental toys out of local materials like straw, bamboo and paper.

Tragedy was just around the corner when her son Richard took his life in 1981.

Hillary said the family are very close and in some ways they can thank Carlile for that.

"Because of the way she is, she pulled us all together."

A few years ago the family got together for a pavalova bake off with the idea that Carlile could pass on her secret recipe to the rest of them. The teams of relative made their best try "but it never tasted quite as good as hers" admitted Hillary.

After his ascent Hillary devoted much of his life to philanthropy. He founded the Himalayan Trust with his wife Louise in the 1960s.

The trust posted its condolences to Facebook for Carlile.

"June was a great friend and ally for Ed in childhood and throughout their adult lives - from providing Ed with a welcome retreat from the media at her home after his ascent of Everest, to her ongoing support for Ed's work in Nepal.

"June was a lifelong supporter and friend of the Himalayan Trust."

Carlile's funeral was held on Thursday where it was requested a donation to the Himalayan Trust be made in lieu of flowers.

- NZ Herald

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