CAWCD Board Member Rodney B. Lewis passed away last night – Tuesday, April 10.
He was appointed to the Board in March 2017 by Arizona Governor Doug Ducey. 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.
“We greatly appreciate all that Rod meant to the Arizona water community, to the state of Arizona and to the Gila River Indian Community for which he served as general counsel,” says Lisa Atkins, CAWCD Board president. “Personally, I would like to express my condolences to his family – to his wife, Willardene, and his three children, Stephen, John and Katherine and their families.”
Mr. Lewis was the first member of an Indian Tribe to appear before the United States Supreme Court, having successfully argued Central Machinery v. Arizona State Tax Commission before the Court in 1980. 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.
Reaction from CAWCD board members includes:
Jim Holway, CAWCD Board Vice President – “During Rod’s tenure on the CAP board, he showed himself to be a collaborator. I always valued his wisdom and his perspective on our water challenges.”
Sharon Megdal, CAWCD Board Secretary – “For years, Rod was a positive, steady presence in Arizona’s water community. He will be greatly missed.”
Terry Goddard – “Professionally and personally, I knew Rod for decades. He was an effective general counsel who was a humble giant in Arizona’s legal circles and who became a respected national figure.”
“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.”