By Gale Fiege Herald Writer
EVERETT — She was a New Yorker. Chic, often acerbically witty and always willfully hard-working.
Everett Daily Herald reporter Theresa Goffredo died Thursday evening following a long battle — a fierce fight — with cancer.
While it was obvious that this petite, dark-haired Italian-American woman wasn’t a Left Coast native, Everett clearly was her chosen hometown. Goffredo, 55, loved Everett.
As a news reporter and later as an arts reporter, she covered the city of Everett. She volunteered as a master gardener docent at the city arboretum, she advocated for programs at the downtown YMCA, and she served on the PTA board at Jackson Elementary School, where her son Dashiell, 9, is a student.
Like the New Yorker she was, Goffredo walked. Everywhere.
A perfect day included a stroll from her home near Jackson Elementary down Marine View Drive to the Fresh Paint festival or the Sunday Farmers Market on the waterfront with her “boys” in tow, husband Peter Verhey, son Dash and a dog — first with the corgi, Angus, and later with the schnauzer, Baxter.
An award-winning journalist, Goffredo is perhaps best known for her very personal, first-person series of stories on infertility, which she wrote with courage and honesty. It had a happy ending, the birth of Dashiell.
Her longtime friend and fellow journalist Marina Parr praised Goffredo and Verhey for their loving devotion to their bright, creative son.
“One time a teacher told Theresa and Pete that Dash was doing so well in school. The teacher said, ‘Dashiell is the whole enchilada,’ ” Parr said. “I think that meant more to Theresa than any journalism award she ever won.”
Theresa Anne Goffredo was born to Ralph and Marie Goffredo on Oct. 29, 1957, on Long Island, N.Y., and grew up with brother Ralph Jr. and sister Roseanne. She graduated in 1975 from Long Island Lutheran High School in Brookville, N.Y.
“Theresa was a tough cookie from a middle-class background. At one point, she was even a bike messenger in Manhattan,” Parr said. “She was a self-made woman who decided young that she would go West to start her life.”
She earned a bachelor of arts degree in journalism in 1983 from San Francisco State University.
“I take some pride in luring Theresa into daily journalism,” said Herald executive editor Neal Pattison, who was then working at the Spokesman-Review. “I offered her the police beat in Spokane. She drove up from San Francisco where, I believe, she had worked as a bike messenger and a restaurant reviewer for local weeklies.
“She had everything she owned crammed into her car; she hadn’t found a place to live. I offered to let her get settled and start a few days later. No way. She wanted to start right away. Boy, she was strong-willed.”
After her stint at the Spokesman-Review, Goffredo worked at the Idaho Statesman in Boise, the East Oregonian in Pendleton, Ore., and in the Tri-City Herald’s Hermiston, Ore., bureau.
Goffredo was a tough reporter, and the New York sensibility helped.
“Theresa asked the tough questions,” Parr said. “She wanted people to know the truth.”
Goffredo briefly considered a career change and in 1994 earned a bachelor of science degree in fish biology at the University of Washington. It was after earning her degree that she met her husband, Peter Verhey, a Royal City farm boy and now a longtime biologist with the state Department of Fish and Wildlife. Goffredo was close to her husband’s family and enjoyed helping with the peach harvest on the family farm.
But the call of newspapering was too strong. Goffredo took a job as a reporter at the Skagit Valley Herald in Mount Vernon.
Scott Terrell, the chief photographer there, remembers her work.
“Theresa expected the best of herself and of others. She brought a lot of heart and passion to the job, her life and family,” Terrell said. “Her writing while at the Skagit Valley Herald reflected her professionalism and devotion to getting the story right. The world lost a wonderful woman and a great journalist.”
Not long after her move to Everett and The Daily Herald in 2000, Goffredo and Verhey decided they wanted a family. It wasn’t easy.
Stephanie Cordle Frankel, a former Herald photographer who worked with Goffredo on the fertility story, remembered her strength.
“She loved that Dash and wanted to be his mother more than anything on this Earth. It was an honor for me to witness her struggle to become a mother. And I will always remember her encouraging me not to put off living my life to the fullest,” Frankel said.
Goffredo also served for a time as The Herald’s night city editor, said Jon Bauer, assistant news editor.
“It’s easy to praise Theresa as a journalist. I was fortunate to work with her while she was an assistant city editor. Theresa made my job easier though her skills in organization and communication,” Bauer said.
“I watched her work with younger reporters and knew they were getting the benefit of guidance from a calm and thoughtful editor. She also was a welcome part of the day, quick to offer praise as you passed by her desk for something you had written the day before,” Bauer said.
Later, as part of the features department, Goffredo was responsible for The Herald’s series of stories on people with names that fit their jobs and another on how to remember the downtown Everett street names.
Artist Jack Gunter said he woke up the other day to a world without Theresa Goffredo.
“It’s not the same. There are less beautiful thoughts on this planet, no more well-penned stories about what is good in the Pacific Northwest. She was my champion, a friend with a love for all things beautiful, a cheerleader for culture and an asset to the region she wrote about.”
Her interview style was engaging, said Carol Thomas, the city of Everett’s director of arts and culture, and it was obvious Goffredo knew what she was talking about.
“Theresa was not an art snob. She honored everybody brave enough to express themselves through art. She was just as enthusiastic about Village Theatre productions as she was the grass-roots community theater here,” Thomas said. “She wrote with her heart and made people feel good about their work just by the enthusiastic way that she interviewed them.”
If all this wasn’t enough, Goffredo still cycled. She road the Seattle-to-Portland endurance ride in 2009. And she woke up, even in the midst of a chemotherapy series, to attend the 5 a.m. Tuesday “spinning” class at the YMCA.
Her instructors, Gael Thomson and Dr. Art Grossman, kept the class going, even when it was just them and Goffredo on the stationary bikes.
“That’s how important she was to us,” Thomson said. “And just by living her life, she had a great impact on people at the Y and other people fighting cancer.”
Everett Mayor Ray Stephanson and city economic development director Lanie McMullin said Goffredo’s death is a great loss to the Everett community.
“She was an incredible human being and will be deeply missed. I am sorry for all of us,” Stephanson said.
Goffredo was civic-minded, fair and ethical, McMullin said.
“Theresa understood what a city needed to do to grow from a livable city to a memorable city. She herself often contributed ideas, and she was one of the people who first approached me with the idea of doing Street Tunes here in Everett.”
Goffredo’s editor Melanie Munk remembers that one of her most popular stories was about George Perez, Goffredo’s checker at the 41st Street Safeway.
“Who knew before Theresa’s story in our Vitality magazine that Perez was ‘The Flash,’ a boxer in his youth, as well as a busy volunteer at his church and an usher at the Silvertips games?” Munk said. “Theresa loved to talk with people.”
Many observations have been made about Goffredo’s determination, her strength and her resolve, Munk said.
“She fought her illness with every weapon in her arsenal, and she grieved as the cancer progressed. But she never lost her sense of humor. She always referred to her hospital visits as spa days.
“Every night, she would come to my office for a little chat before she left for the day. She had gotten a little wobbly and a little weak, but when it was time to get up and go, she would announce her progress: ‘She’s up! No, she’s down again! And she’s up!’ And off she’d go, with a farewell smile that would break your heart.”