Cancer has claimed the life of Kirsten Lindquist, whose anchor tenure for Twin Cities television newscasts in the later half of the 1980s included unscripted and live video coverage showing a tornado cutting a gash into the north metro.
Lindquist was suffering from pancreatic cancer and died on Feb. 14 at her home in Glen Ellen, Calif. She was 60.
Lindquist left radio news for television in 1980 and joined the start-up crew of CNN news, going on to anchor CNN from Los Angeles.
In 1985, she moved to Minneapolis and anchored the news on what was WUSA and then KARE, Channel 11, and then KSTP, Channel 5.
In what was probably Lindquist's most dramatic experience on Twin Cities television, she and KARE co-anchor Paul Magers were joined by meteorologist Paul Douglas on the set as the Fridley tornado of July 1986 unfolded, destroying 68 acres of the Springbrook Nature Center while uprooting century-old trees and mature forest habitat during its 16 minutes on the ground.
The script for the newscast was pushed aside, and all efforts were placed on covering the tornado in real time for nearly 30 minutes as live video images were being relayed.
"She and Paul did a magnificent job playing off each other, keeping the dialogue going, asking the right questions," Douglas, founder of Media Logic Group and the Star Tribune's chief meteorologist, said Monday. "I distinctly remember a look of pure shock on Kirsten's face whenever the helicopter footage of the tornado came up on the monitors in the studio. … We were in uncharted waters."
In 1990, Lindquist married Dennis Courtier, an apple producer in southern Minnesota, taking her professional life in a new direction.
She left KSTP to run a farm market at Lake City, Minn. She then worked in communications on behalf of Pepin Heights Orchards and also did publicity work for the Prairie Island Tribal Council in Red Wing, Minn.
In a brief profile in the Star Tribune in 1999, Linquist said she was content with her life's path and would not want to redo anything.
"I feel very fortunate to be able to say that," she said. "I'm happy with what I've done so far and where I am today."
Douglas said Lindquist was "the definition of a class act. … She was always upbeat, happy, genuinely curious, and I got the distinct feeling that she wasn't permanently vested in local television news. She would try new things."
Her native Northern California soon called her back. She returned and went into real estate in 1999. Lindquist and Courtier divorced in 2000.
She had grown up in California before moving with her family to northern Virginia, then attended Northern Virginia Community College and Santa Rosa (Calif.) Junior College.
After her first job out of college with a CBS radio affiliate in northern Virginia, she joined the Associated Press Radio Network in Washington, D.C., and covered the White House, the State Department, Congress, the Supreme Court and all federal agencies.
Linquist is survived by her mother, Mickey Cooke, and stepfather Erik Holbek of Glen Ellen; brothers Scott Lindquist of Santa Fe, N.M., and Suren Holbek of Wildwood, Calif., and sister Mona Lindquist of San Anselmo, Calif. A memorial service will be held at 11 a.m. on April 10 at the White Barn, 14805 Sonoma Hwy., Glen Ellen.