Iconic KOMO News anchor Kathi Goertzen has died after a long battle with brain tumors.
“Our co-worker, our angel, our precious friend, Kathi Goertzen, died today, surrounded by her loving family,” wrote KOMO News Director Holly Gauntt.
“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.”
Goertzen grew up in Seattle and graduated from Queen Anne High School before attending Washington State University. She’d planned to be a veterinarian before shifting her focus to journalism.
Goertzen joined KOMO TV in 1980, becoming a weekend anchor in 1982 before moving to weekday anchor in 1984. She was the first local news anchor to report live from the Brandenburg Gate during the fall of the Berlin Wall.
Goertzen became one of the best known celebrity’s in the Northwest and worked for a number of charitable organizations.
In 1998 she was first diagnosed with a non-cancerous tumor that damaged the nerves controlling her speech and swallowing.
Among her many contributions was leading a $43 million capital campaign for the YWCA of Seattle, King and Snohomish counties as board president for the organization.
She had surgery and returned to work within a month, but the tumor re-grew in 2005. A series of surgeries left her unable to anchor.
“It’s been a rough road, as you know. I was diagnosed with this, atypical meningioma, more than 10 years ago and I’ve had several surgeries and radiation and tried lots of different drugs and I’ve lost cranial nerve that controls my face and my hearing and my voice and my balance,” she said in a recent KOMO story.
“There is no more pain and suffering. We hope you find comfort in the words she spoke when talking about this day,” Gauntt wrote.
“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,” Goertzen said prior to her death.
“She was one of the sweetest, most impressive people I’ve ever known,” said KIRO’s Dori Monson.
KIRO’s Ursula Reutin profiled Goertzen in a recent feature.
“I just kept telling her ‘Kathi, do you realize what an inspiration you are to so many?'” says Reutin.
Goertzen won five Emmy Awards and one Edward R. Murrow award, priding herself on her ability to carry a breaking-news broadcast without a script, according to the Seattle Times.
Goertzen is survived by her husband, Rick Jewett, two daughters, Alexa Jarvis and Andrea Jewett, and her mother and father, Irma and Don Goertzen, all of Seattle. She was 54.
“My heart is with the family, friends and colleagues of Kathi Goertzen. 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, said Governor Christine Gregoire in a statement.
“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.”