By Assunta Ng
NORTHWEST ASIAN WEEKLY
Former KOMO anchor Kathi Goertzen passed away Monday after undergoing nine brain surgeries. I first met Kathi in 1983. She called me and wondered if she could interview me about the Wah Mee Massacre. Her sweet voice made it hard for me to say no. A few minutes after I said yes, she appeared at my office door with her co-anchor, ready to go. She appeared with such speed that I suspected she was calling from right outside my office.
Over the years, mainstream news reporters floated in and out of my office to request interviews, so much so that my staff could not keep track of all the names and faces. But my staff still remembers Kathi.
Kathi was a remarkable storyteller. At the Y’s lunch, about 2,000 who watched her video about disadvantaged women were moved to tears. She used her money, voice, and presence to advocate for desperate and despondent women and families.
How did she connect with the Y?
Rita Ryder, executive director for YWCA relations, said Kathi first did a story about the Y more than 26 years ago. After the story, she called Ryder for more questions, which showed that Kathi cared about Y’s work. Since then, Kathi served on the board and became its president.
Over the years, Kathi and I have interacted many times. Both of us offered our time and support to the YWCA annual luncheons. She invited me to sit at her table a few times. But in the last four years, I assume she was too sick to organize her own table.
I attended an interview she did with Dan Lewis with President Bill Clinton in early 1991 for KOMO. Although I couldn’t recall many details, I remember Kathi as a top-notch, sophisticated reporter. One of her final interviews for the University of Washington Women’s Center was with Lilly Ledbetter, who led the fight for the Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2009. Kathi’s ability to draw Ledbetter to share the interesting details of her challenges made the program exciting and compelling.
The last time I saw her was on July 19 at the Y’s party in a private home in Bellevue. Her illness was taking a toll at that point. She looked tired and sick. However, when she saw friends, her eyes would instantly light up. She could not talk or eat, but she would whisper softly and touch both my hands. That touch communicated the warmth and strength that I’ve long associated with Kathi’s personality. I am so fortunate to have been her friend. May she rest in peace. (end)