It is with great sadness the CAWCD Board of Directors announced the passing of fellow Board member, colleague and friend, Rodney B. Lewis, who passed away April 10, 2018.
Mr. Lewis accepted a gubernatorial appointment by Governor Doug Ducey in March 2017 and served as a Maricopa County representative. Mr. Lewis was the first Native American to serve on the CAWCD Board and, in fact, was the first member of an Arizona Indian Tribe to become a member of the State Bar of Arizona and the first Native American attorney to successfully argue and win a case before the United States Supreme Court.
“We greatly appreciate all that Rod meant to the Arizona water community, to the state of Arizona and to the Gila River Indian Community (GRIC) for which he served as general counsel,” says Lisa Atkins, CAWCD Board president.
As GRIC’s general counsel, he led the Community’s negotiations with the federal government, the State of Arizona and more than 30 non-Indian parties for settlement of the Community’s water rights and claims. This resulted in the Arizona Water Settlements Act of 2004, which was signed into law in December 2004 by President George W. Bush. Mr. Lewis also successfully represented GRIC in the Gila River Stream Adjudication cases before the Arizona Supreme Court and since entering private legal practice successfully represented multiple tribal interests including the Crow Tribe of Montana and the Pechanga Band of Luiseno Indians in California.
“CAP was fortunate to enjoy the vast experience and unique perspective Rod brought to our Board and our District as our first tribal Director,” says Ted Cooke, CAP general manager. “We are grateful for his service and extend thoughts of peace and condolences to his family and to the Gila River Indian Community for their loss.”
Mr. Lewis, also known affectionately as “Rod” is survived by his wife, Willardene Pratt Lewis, sons Stephen Roe, Governor of the Gila River Indian Community, John Blaine, daughter Katherine Elizabeth and seven grandchildren. Mr. Lewis was preceded in death by his brother, Robert “Bob” Lewis and survived by his brother John.