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, 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.
“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.
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.