Thursday, August 16, 2012

Goodbye To A Friend...


"I was 18 years old when we first met at the WSU Murrow Communications building on campus in Pullman. You were a senior and I was a freshman. I had aspirations to be a broadcast journalist. You were already an accomplished one. But you took the time to talk to me and a friendship began. Our paths crossed many times over the years and you were always the same humble and helpful person you were when I first met you. That says a lot about a person in our industry. I will miss you. Thank you for always being a class act, a symbol of courage and an inspiration to us all. Peace, until we meet again..."


I wrote the above words on my Facebook page the hour I learned Kathi Goertzen had died.

For us here in Western Washington, we know who Kathi Goertzen is.  She spent almost 30-years as the main anchor of KOMO 4 News in Seattle.  A graduate of Washington State University's Murrow College of Communication, Kathi had a passion for broadcast journalism. 

But Kathi also was a kind and humble person who never took herself too seriously and always found the time to help others. 

It is the little things she did in life that made her so beloved.

Kathi battled non-cancerous brain tumors for 14 years.  In the end, the tumors didn't take her life, pneumonia did.  As her co-worker Eric Johnson put it so beautifully, "She probably would have wanted it that way."

The tumors robbed her of her smile in recent years, paralyzing one half of her face.  Kathi's courage to publicly share her struggle provided healing for countless others battling adversity. 

That's what makes us so sad about her passing.  Each of us carries a personal scar or wound whether on the outside or the inside.  By Kathi showing us her vulnerability, her courage and perseverance and how a once beautiful face was transforming, I believe we all were healed in some small way (I know there's a homily in this somewhere and humbly look forward to sharing it someday as a tribute to a friend).

Kathi's memorial service is this Sunday at 1pm at Fisher Pavilion at Seattle Center.  If you are unable to attend in person, it will be fed on 

Please Keep Kathi, her daughters Alexa and Andrea, husband Rick and the rest of her family and friends in your thoughts and prayers in the coming days and give thanks to God for a person who touched so many lives here in the Northwest.

I've attached a few articles about Kathi.  Even in death, this giving soul continues to show us all a model for how to live our lives.


Kathi Goertzen's legacy lives on in her foundation


Dan Lewis is anchor of KOMO-TV news. Credit: KOMO-TV

Op-ed: Kathi Goertzen found the positive in everything, even brain tumors

Dan Lewis - Special to the Seattle Times  
Reprinted from the Seattle Times
Originally published August 15, 2012

"THIS brain tumor business has been a wonderful experience in many ways. It's changed my life and the lives of a lot of people I love and we've learned what's really important."

Kathi Goertzen said that. It helps sum up her courageous 14-year fight against brain tumors that ended when
Kathi died on Monday. She was just 54 years old.

But that was Kathi. Wonderful experience? Brain tumors? Really?

Kathi could find the positive in anything. It's one of the many reasons we loved her at KOMO-TV and why she was loved throughout the Western Washington community.

I can't count the times I heard her in the newsroom, on the phone, at Children's hospital or out in public sharing her positive thoughts with people facing medical issues or other tribulations in life.

She let her brain tumors teach her what's important in life. She did not let her brain tumors define her.
She marched on as the same loving, giving, caring, kind soul that God put on this Earth.

God must have a mission for her in heaven. Maybe that's why he took her back.

I met Kathi when I came to KOMO-TV in 1987. She became one of the most important people in my life, a woman I would admire on the news set, and off, as a true professional and a role model for the entire Western Washington community.

Kathi and I cried together many times over the years. We cried the hardest when we lost four Seattle firefighters in the 1995 Pang Warehouse fire and when four Lakewood police officers were gunned down by an assassin in 2009.

Even as reporters, we couldn't cover the news without feeling the same emotions as everyone else.

We always knew what the other was thinking in those breaking-news situations. When I stopped talking, Kathi was always ready to add perspective or move on with a new thought or new information.

Kathi never, ever asked, "Why me?" But she did ask, "Why?" She knew there was a reason she had brain tumors. I think it was so she could spread the word about "what's really important." Cherish family and the people you love. Cherish good health. Cherish good times. Cherish good friends. 

Share your love. Give back. Truly care for others and for community.

As a board member for the YWCA of Seattle and King County, she helped raise millions of dollars. She was a strong supporter of Angeline's Women's Centers. Year after year, she opened her heart to the Children's Miracle Network Telethon.

Kathi was courageous, inspirational and beautiful right to the end.

Her spirit will live on.

I spent some time on Tuesday with Kathi's daughters Alexa and Andrea. Andrea was quick to tell me that, like her mom, she was not going to hide during this tough time. She's ready to carry on the cause to push for more brain-tumor research.

And when I asked Alexa if there's anything I could do for her -- she turned the tables and told me it's OK for me to be sad around her because she knows I am sad.

Both of the girls, the day after their mother's death -- thinking about and caring for others.
Mom would be proud.

Dan Lewis is a news anchor for KOMO-TV.


Celebration of Kathi set for Sunday

SEATTLE – A public celebration of Kathi Goertzen’s life has been set for Sunday afternoon in Seattle.

The service will be held at Fisher Pavilion at the Seattle Center beginning at 1 p.m.

Seating inside the pavilion will be limited largely to family members, friends and co-workers. But there will be an audio feed of the service outside, and the public is invited to sit on the nearby grassy area and listen.

The full service will also be streamed live on

Those planning to attend in person and sit outside are invited to bring lawn chairs or blankets.

Doors at the Fisher Pavilion will open at 12:30 p.m. and the celebration will begin at 1 p.m.

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