NPI's Cascadia Advocate

Offering commentary and analysis from Washington, Oregon, and Idaho, The Cascadia Advocate is the Northwest Progressive Institute's unconventional perspective on world, national, and local politics.

Monday, August 13th, 2012

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.

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7 Comments

  1. 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

    # by David & Ria Rivenburgh :: August 13th, 2012 at 7:17 PM
  2. 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!

    # by Ann Martin :: August 13th, 2012 at 7:23 PM
  3. 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.

    # by Rebecca A. Rybacki :: August 13th, 2012 at 8:09 PM
  4. 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.

    # by Nola Taylor :: August 13th, 2012 at 8:35 PM
  5. 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 🙂

    # by Linda Halverson :: August 13th, 2012 at 9:24 PM
  6. 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.

    # by Sheila Reglin :: August 13th, 2012 at 9:29 PM
  7. 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

    # by sarah niedens :: August 14th, 2012 at 10:11 AM