Crash victim's wife: 'I was crazy about this guy. I loved him so much'

BOTHELL, Wash. -- As the investigation continues into the crash of the KOMO news helicopter Tuesday, so does the outpouring of support for families of pilot Gary Pfitzner and photographer Bill Strothman.

Before Bill Strothman went to work in the helicopter, and even before his 30 years here as a KOMO news photographer, Bill took a broadcast journalism class at the University of Washington. It's where he met his wife, Nora.

Nora and their kids, Dan and Heidi, sat down with me this afternoon to talk about the greatest man in their lives.

"We don't lack for love around here, but I have been amazed," Nora Strothman said. "I knew Bill was loved, but, oh my gosh I didn't know he touched that many people."

There are those of us who reported with Bill -- his fellow photographers and producers, but he also touched the people he met along the way.

Never just the subject of the news, but people with a story and a voice.

"You've got to step back and look," said Heidi Heath, Bill's daughter. "Where's the human element? How can we connect in our day to day, help people, touch them?"

His ability to tell those stories won accolades, including 13 Emmys -- reluctantly displayed in his home office for clients who came by.

He was more proud of the group awards, like when KOMO photographers won Station of the Year honors from the National Press Photographers Association. And he never lost the thrill of sharing a good story with Nora.

"He came home one day and said, 'You've gotta see this story,' " Nora said.

It happened time and time again. He took great pride in a series of stories with reporter Kim Riemland, called "Angels Among Us. They celebrated the good and highlighted the inspiring.

"They found people that were helping," Heath said. "Beautiful stories."

When Bill retired from the daily newsroom grind, the helicopter was a natural fit. He loved to fly.

But he was about to retire from that, too. After more than 30 years of telling stories, Bill and Nora were taking a step back.

"I was crazy about this guy," Nora said. "I loved him so much. It's going to be really hard, but I've got tremendous love around me."

Love - and faith. Bill and Nora inspired the same in their children.

"He was the best father you could ask for," Heath said.

Dan and Heidi say the couple never - truly never - fought. There was too much respect for that.

"Everybody got to know and love Bill, but I got to marry him," Nora said. "I was the really lucky one. And I'm so grateful for that. Really grateful for that."

And we're grateful Nora, Heidi and Dan shared Bill with us.

One more gift Bill helped instill in the family: There was never any question how much they all love one another. And they told me there are no regrets.