20 Jul 1919 - 11 Jan 2008
ZUI this article from Yahoo! News:
Sir Edmund Hillary, the unassuming beekeeper who conquered Mount Everest to win renown as one of the 20th century's greatest adventurers, has died, New Zealand Prime Minister Helen Clark announced Friday. He was 88.
The gangling New Zealander devoted much of his life to aiding the mountain people of Nepal and took his fame in stride, preferring to be called "Ed" and considering himself just an ordinary beekeeper.
Hillary's life was marked by grand achievements, high adventure, discovery, excitement — and by his personal humility. Humble to the point that he only admitted being the first man atop Everest long after the death of climbing companion Tenzing Norgay.
He had pride in his feats. Returning to base camp as the man who took the first step onto the top of the world's highest peak, he declared: "We knocked the bastard off."
The accomplishment as part of a British climbing expedition even added luster to the coronation of Britain's Queen Elizabeth II four days later, and she knighted Hillary as one of her first act [sic].
And this article from infonews.co.nz:
Hillary, who came to characterise the typical "rugged Kiwi individual", was born in Auckland on July 20, 1919.
Educated at Auckland Grammar School, where he admitted he was "no great shakes", Hillary eventually became a beekeeper, like his father.
During World War 2 he trained as a navigator in the Royal New Zealand Air Force and flew anti-submarine patrols in the Pacific on Catalina flying boats. During his training he began climbing with his long time friend, George Lowe from Hawke's Bay, honing his skills on the Kaikoura Ranges.
After the war he returned to beekeeping and began to climb extensively, including three Himalayan expeditions.
His chance to make his mark in history came when selected for the 1953 British expedition to climb Mt Everest, led by former commando Colonel John Hunt, later Lord Hunt.
On the mountain, the first assault team that tried to reach the 8848m summit was driven back by altitude sickness. Hillary, who was renowned for his fitness and speed, was chosen along with Sherpa Tenzing to try next.
Meanwhile the honours continued, among them one of the inaugural awards of the Order of New Zealand, New Zealand's highest award given in recognition of outstanding civil or military service.
In 1992, Sir Edmund became the first living New Zealander to feature on a banknote, when his well-known craggy face graced the new $5 bill. He remained one of the most popular New Zealand celebrities and a poll in March 1994 voted him the most popular choice for Governor-General.
In June 1995 he was installed as a Knight Companion of the Order of the Garter, the most senior order of chivalry, at a lavish ceremony at Windsor Castle. He was only the third New Zealander to be given the honour, limited to 24 living members.
Tenzing Norgay GM died 9 May 1986 in Darjeeling, India.