Kathi Goertzen, Longtime Seattle Television Anchor, Dies At 54

Kathi Goertzen, who for years was one of Seattle’s most trusted television anchors, died this week after a 14-year struggle with recurring brain tumors.

Goertzen was hospitalized last week with the tumors that slowly deteriorated her face and voice before finally robbing her of the ability to breathe on her own, the Seattle Times reported. The tumors were benign but unusually aggressive, the report said.

Kathi Goertzen, a Seattle native, anchored KOMO newscasts for close to 30 years, starting as in intern just out of college in 1979. More than 20 years of that time was spent teamed with anchor Don Lewis.

She made her battle with the tumors a matter of public record, airing a story about her declining health in 2011.

“I’m not one to hide,” she said as she faced the camera to display the nerve damage in her face.

In her final days, Kathi Goertzen was surrounded by her large Seattle family and KOMO-TV colleagues, who asked viewers to keep Goertzen in their prayers.

“All weekend long I thought about her,” Darcy Eakins, a viewer who drove from West Seattle to join a vigil outside the KOMO news studios, told the Seattle Times.

Kathi Goertzen, who married Rick Jewett, an account executive at KOMO, was awarded five Emmy Awards and one Edward R. Murrow award during her tenure. She prided herself on being able to carry a breaking-news broadcast without a script.

“She has this aura, this ethos that permeates the newsroom,” said KOMO weatherman Steve Pool. “There is an elegant class about Kathi that goes along with her undeniable ability to do what she does on a daily basis.”

The impact of her death reached across the state, with even Gov. Chris Gregoire releasing a statement, Seattlepi.com reported.

“She had countless fans, not just in Seattle, but around the globe, and was one of the finest people I knew,” Gov. Chris Gregoire said after hearing of Goertzen’s death Monday. “She was a terrific journalist because she cared deeply about her work and the people it touched. She had passion and it showed.

Aside from her anchor work, Kathi Goertzen was known for her large civic profile and volunteer work. For the past 24 years she was a speaker at local YWCA luncheons and as board president for the organization led a $43 million capital campaign.