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Kathi Goertzen: 1958-2012

This afternoon, we received the very sad news that one of Seattle’s best known newscasters and community leaders is no longer with us.

Kathi Goertzen

Much-beloved Seattle news anchor Kathi Goertzen. (Photo courtesy of Dan Lewis and KOMO 4 News).

Kathi Goertzen, who for decades was the face of KOMO 4 News with coanchor Dan Lewis, died around 12:45 PM today after a long, difficult battle with several brain tumors, the station announced. She was fifty-four.

In a message to viewers, KOMO’s news director Holly Gauntt expressed gratitude for the unwavering support Washingtonians have shown to Goertzen before, during, and after her many surgeries – which altered her appearance but not her spirit.

Our co-worker, our angel, our precious friend, Kathi Goertzen, died today, surrounded by her loving family.

The long fight against the tumors that have ravaged her brain is over. She is at peace now, comfortable and surrounded by all that is good. Please know, as we do, that your love enveloped her. It strengthened and encouraged her. She loved your compassion and concern more than you’ll ever know. You helped her fight a valiant fight. We want to thank each and every one of you for that.

You truly made a difference in our friend’s life. Kathi spoke of her own mortality with courage. She was a woman of great faith who was confident in the knowledge that her life on this earth was but one chapter in her journey. Kathi is with God now, of that we are sure.

There is no more pain and suffering. We hope you find comfort in the words she spoke when talking about this day:

“I’m not afraid to die. I have a great belief, a great faith there’s more. There’s more to me, there’s more to this life.”

Tributes appropriately began flowing in immediately. KING’s Jean Enersen and KIRO’s Steve Raible each recorded clips honoring Kathi on behalf of their respective stations, which KOMO aired during its 5 PM newscast this evening, jointly anchored by Dan Lewis, Steve Pool, Eric Johnson, and Mary Nam.

Dan Lewis and Kathi Goertzen

Dan Lewis and Kathi Goertzen, KOMO TV’s charismatic and well-respected anchor team. (Photo courtesy of KOMO News).

“Today, a piece of the fabric of my life is gone,” Pool told viewers. He worked with Goertzen for more than three decades at KOMO, and was among those who knew her best. “She was the glue that held us all together [as a team],” he added.

The region’s elected leaders also remembered Kathi.

“My heart is with the family, friends and colleagues of Kathi Goertzen,” said Governor Chris Gregoire in a statement. “She had countless fans, not just in Seattle, but around the globe, and was one of the finest people I knew. She was a terrific journalist because she cared deeply about her work and the people it touched. She had passion and it showed. She put her heart and soul into every story, and was a warm and welcome presence at the anchor desk every evening.”

“As her fight against brain tumors waged on, we saw yet another side of Kathi. She was courageous, fearless and inspirational.”

“Not afraid to share her own story, she remained strong, with that beautiful smile, to the end. Kathi brightened our lives and leaves a remarkable legacy.”

“As the face of KOMO News for twenty years, Kathi Goertzen was a successful and accomplished journalist who approached her work with integrity, compassion, and a dedication to the public good,” agreed Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn.

“Her strength and resiliency during her illness made her an inspiration to many in our community. She will be long remembered in Seattle for her accomplishments at the anchor desk as well as her grace in the face of adversity. Kathi was beloved by the people of Seattle, and we will miss her.”

“My heartfelt condolences to Kathi’s family, her friends, and all who welcomed her into their homes through the medium of television,” said King County Executive Dow Constantine. “Kathi leaves a legacy of kindness, professionalism, and strength as she gracefully battled her illness for more than a decade. She was an icon of television news in the Pacific Northwest, and she will be missed.”

Senator Maria Cantwell, meanwhile, paid a personal visit to Fisher Plaza to convey her condolences to Goertzen’s family and colleagues. She placed a bouquet of flowers next to a collection of other items left to honor Goertzen’s memory.

“KOMO News’ Kathi Goertzen was as courageous as they come and an excellent Pacific Northwest journalist. She never gave up and will be greatly missed,” Senator Patty Murray said on Twitter.

Goertzen was just twenty-two years old when she joined KOMO 4 News as a journalist after graduating from Washington State University (WSU). Within a few years, the station had promoted her to the anchor desk.

She first anchored weekend newscasts, then began anchoring weeknights after it became apparent she was a great newscaster. In the late 1980s, the station hired Dan Lewis to join her behind the desk, and thus began what became the longest-running partnership at a local news station west of the Mississippi.

During her career, Goertzen won five Emmys and an Edward R. Murrow Award for excellence in broadcasting.

Kathi's colleagues remember her

Kathi Goertzen’s colleagues remember her during the August 13th, newscast at 5 PM. Pictured are Steve Pool, Dan Lewis, Eric Johnson, and Mary Nam.

Like many other young Washingtonians, I grew up with Kathi Goertzen and Dan Lewis. They brought the news into my family’s living room, whether it was good or bad. Like Dennis Bounds and Jean Enersen at KING5, they made a great team. It was evident to me as a viewer that they weren’t just colleagues – they, along with weatherman Steve Pool and sports anchor Eric Johnson, were the best of friends. The camaraderie they enjoyed was fun to watch, particularly before Apple Cup weekend, when Pool (an ardent Husky fan) and Goertzen (an ardent Cougar fan) would endlessly tease each other on-air.

All of us at NPI extend our deepest condolences to Kathi’s family, friends, and colleagues, especially her husband Rick and daughters Alexa and Andrea. She is also survived by her parents and sisters.

Kathi was a remarkable anchor and a wonderful person. It would be an understatement to say that we will miss her. Washington and the Pacific Northwest were blessed to have her as a journalist and community leader for over thirty years.

7 Comments

  1. Posted August 13th, 2012 at 7:17 PM | Permalink

    Kathi will be missed she was a woman of big faith and was a true hero in her battle over these years we have watched Kathi over 30 years and she has brought a lot of joy to all the people that have known her Her battle is over I send my love to her children who will surely miss her thay have a mother to be trully proud of

  2. Ann Martin
    Posted August 13th, 2012 at 7:23 PM | Permalink

    Thanks, Andrew, for a wonderful tribute to Kathi. As I am sure many in our community feel, that Kathi was a personal friend, I am greatly saddened by her untimely passing at such a young age!

    Of course I cannot let this pass without mentioning her contributions to our mutual Alma Mater, Washington State University. She showed the Cougar spirit – never give up, always believe! She will be missed across the state and beyond!

  3. Rebecca A. Rybacki
    Posted August 13th, 2012 at 8:09 PM | Permalink

    Every night since I moved here from Phoenix, Arizona, KOMO News has been invited into my living room.

    Kathi was like a friend that came to dinner every night. One did not have to know her personally to know what a wonderful spirit she had. I have laughed with her and cried with her right in my living room. Today I cry. The last time I remember an interruption of a TV program affecting me so was when President JFK was assassinated. Kathi was an inspiration to all.

    I am all too familiar with loss. My heart goes out to her family and the entire KOMO 4 newsroom.

  4. Nola Taylor
    Posted August 13th, 2012 at 8:35 PM | Permalink

    I am deeply saddened to hear of Kathi’s passing. She was the age of my children, loved seeing her on TV. She made us feel that she was our personal friend. My sincere condolences to her family. We will all miss her.

  5. Linda Halverson
    Posted August 13th, 2012 at 9:24 PM | Permalink

    Thank you Dan, Eric, Steve and Mary for the touching tribute you gave Kathi tonight. It was a perfect combination of love, respect and admiration for a special woman greatly loved by all. I laughed and I cried while watching it. The four of you did an amazing job, especially considering the circumstances. Thank you for sharing her story. My prayers go out to her family and to all of you that will remember her every day. You now have a special angel watching over you :)

  6. Sheila Reglin
    Posted August 13th, 2012 at 9:29 PM | Permalink

    A message for the KOMO folks: I live in Vernon British Columbia and have always watched your newscast. I am truly sorry for the loss of your leader. She was a wonderful lady! Your tribute on-air tonight was very touching and a beautiful way to show the love for a dear friend that you all loved.

    She will be missed by all her viewers as well.

    My thoughts are with your team and her family. Thank you for sharing your grief with us.

  7. sarah niedens
    Posted August 14th, 2012 at 10:11 AM | Permalink

    I was living in Illinois when I had directv back in the mid 90′s and I used to get komo on directv and I used to watch dan and Kathi sometimes. I remember that Dan and Kathi were the best anchor team along with Steve and eric that I ever saw. period. I remember around thanksgiving either 98 or 99. when kathi announced her illness. Through the years I have been following her story about her illness on the internet. What I remember is that Kathi had courage and bravery to deal with her illness. I am sorry to hear about Kathi’s death. My heart goes out to Dan, Steve and Eric,Kathi’s family. and her komo family. RIP Kathi