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Packed memorial honors life of TV anchorwoman Kathi Goertzen
Friends, family and admirers of KOMO-TV anchor Kathi Goertzen packed Fisher Pavilion at Seattle Center on Sunday to celebrate her life, in a service punctuated by laughter and a lot of nose-blowing.
Seattle Times science reporter
Kathi Goertzen won a lot of awards in her broadcasting career, but there was only one she boasted about: Star 101.5 FM's "Newscaster You Would Most Like to See Naked."
"She would point at it and say: You got one of these?" fellow KOMO-TV journalist Eric Johnson recalled Sunday in a memorial service that focused on the personal side of the poised anchorwoman.
Goertzen tap danced on the set between shots. She gave Johnson nose-hair clippers for Christmas. At parties, she was never the first to leave.
Even after brain tumors had robbed her of the ability to swallow and hear, Goertzen showed up at Johnson's 50th birthday party, because she knew it was important to him.
"Kathi could lighten a bad mood, and she could light up a room," said Dan Lewis, her co-anchor for more than 20 years.
Goertzen died last Monday (Aug. 13) at the age of 54.
Her friends, family and admirers packed Fisher Pavilion on Sunday to celebrate her life, in a service punctuated by laughter and a lot of nose-blowing.
Dozens more gathered on the lawn outside to honor a woman who was more than a trusted source of information.
"She gave people she didn't even know strength — and one of them was my mom," said Shannon Ransom, of Kent, sitting outside the memorial service. When Ransom's mother was diagnosed with cancer, she drew inspiration from Goertzen's perseverance in the face of multiple surgeries and tumors that kept coming back.
"I never met her, but when you turned on the TV in your home, you felt like you knew her," Ransom said.
Kathy Temple and her husband, Jeff Ring, traveled from Poulsbo, Kitsap County, to attend the memorial, even though both of Temple's legs are in casts from Achilles tendon surgery. Ring pushed her wheelchair from the ferry terminal.
"Kathi was a genuine, beautiful soul who had a great spark in her," said Temple, who started watching KOMO newscasts when she moved to Washington state 25 years ago. Goertzen's warmth and compassion shone through, even when she was reporting on grim events. "Not knowing anyone here, they felt to me like some of the first friends I made."
Ring said he was impressed by Goertzen's local roots and volunteer work. "It wasn't just a job," he said. "She put a lot of herself back into the community."
Goertzen's choice of career was a surprise to her parents, Lewis said during the memorial. She was a quiet girl who got good grades but preferred to hide in her room. Her original goal was to be a veterinarian, but her first experience with a dead cat changed that.
Goertzen joined KOMO after she graduated from Washington State University, and her avid support for the Cougars drew whistles and cheers of support on Sunday. Weatherman Steve Pool, a fan of the University of Washington Huskies, brought the house down when he donned a Cougar hat.
Washington State University President Elson Floyd joined in eulogizing Goertzen, but couldn't resist getting a jab in. "Put on the hat, Steve," he said to a roar of applause.
Outside the hall, well-wishers left bouquets and wrote messages on a giant scroll. A poster-size editorial cartoon rested on an easel.
In the image, Goertzen stood at the pearly gates, facing St. Peter with her reporter's notebook in hand. "I'll ask the questions around here," read the caption.
Sandi Doughton: 206-464-2491