University of Arizona Law to Honor Three Distinguished Alumni at 2023 Lifetime Achievement Awards

Oct. 9, 2023
A mountain at dusk

This year, the University of Arizona Law James E. Rogers College of Law will honor Richard Davis (’72), Ann Kirkpatrick (’79), and Gordon Waterfall (’65) with the Lifetime Achievement Award.   

Lifetime Achievement Award recipients are selected by faculty for their distinguished and exemplary careers, contributions to the legal profession, support for public causes and law reform, and commitment to the pursuit of justice. 

Lifetime Achievement Awards Ceremony 

Date: Friday, November 3, 2023 
Time: 4:30 - 6:30 p.m.   
Where: James E. Rogers College of Law, Lewis Roca Lobby and Snell & Wilmer Courtyard   
Who may attend: This event is free and open to all alumni, family, friends, and students. RSVP is requested.  


2023 Honorees  

Richard Davis

Richard Davis, Class of 1972 

Known for his legal acumen, integrity and professionalism, Richard Davis is recognized as one of the top trial lawyers in the United States. Consistently listed in Best Lawyers in America, Davis began with Chandler Tullar Udall and Richmond but spent most of his legal career with Mesch Clark and Rothschild. In 1989, he became the first African American in the state of Arizona to be inducted into the American College of Trial Lawyers.   

Davis was born and raised in Miami, Florida. After graduating from George Washington Carver High School, he served a tour of duty in the United States Air Force before attending the University of Arizona, where he studied Political Science. He earned his Juris Doctor from University of Arizona Law in 1972. During college, Davis was a founder and the first president of both the Black Student Union and the Zeta Theta Chapter of the Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity. He was also a founder of the University of Arizona’s New Start Program which offers students an opportunity to get a head start on their college degree while getting to know the campus and meeting new people.   

Throughout his career, Davis has provided more than just legal services to those in need. He has served the Tucson community as a public speaker, mentor, and teacher. He currently is a member of the Southern Arizona African American Museum and the University of Arizona’s President Black Community Council. His many public service activities in the past include membership on the boards of Southern Arizona Legal Aid, YMCA, YWCA, United Way of Tucson, Tucson Urban League, Tucson Community Foundation, and Tucson Airport Authority. In 2002, Davis was honored as Father of the Year by the Tucson Father’s Day Council, and in 2022 he was inducted into the University of Arizona’s Order of Omega Greek Hall of Fame.  

Davis is supported in all of his professional and community activities by his wife of 53 years Doreen D, Davis. Together they share two children and three grandchildren.   

Ann Kirkpatrick

Ann Kirkpatrick, Class of 1979 

Ann Kirkpatrick, the fourth woman in Arizona’s history elected to the United States Congress, is known for her unique ability to effect transformative change through collaboration and her unwavering advocacy for the people of Arizona. Kirkpatrick’s early years were profoundly influenced by her upbringing on Arizona’s White Mountain Apache Nation. Growing up with a Republican mother and a Democratic father, she learned valuable skills in conflict resolution that would later make her one of the country’s most successful bridge builders in Congress.   

Kirkpatrick earned her Bachelor of Arts and Juris Doctor degrees from the University of Arizona, graduating from University of Arizona Law in 1979.  

In 1980, Kirkpatrick was selected as Coconino County’s first woman Deputy County Attorney. She later served as city attorney for Sedona and then entered private practice, focusing on family law. In 2004, she secured her first of two terms in Arizona's House of Representatives, collaborating with Governor Janet Napolitano to elevate K-12 education. In 2008, she was elected to the United States Congress, subsequently winning re-election in 2012 and 2014. Her constituency spanned the state, from Flagstaff and the Navajo Nation to the suburbs of Tucson. Known for her indomitable spirit, Kirkpatrick ran for Congress again in 2018. She flipped southern Arizona's Second Congressional District and secured re-election in 2020.  

During her years in Congress, Kirkpatrick secured legislation that brought substantial benefits to veterans and Native Americans, including groundbreaking laws that protected water rights for Arizona and its tribes and significant reforms within the Veteran Affairs Administration. She played a pivotal role in the passage of the VA Missions Act of 2018, permitting veterans to obtain health care from community providers and protecting whistleblowers. As a key member of the Appropriations Committee, she championed the needs of her constituents, focusing her legislative agenda on accessible healthcare, robust infrastructure, trade and immigration reform, climate change mitigation, and support for the defense industry.   

After retiring from Congress in 2023, Kirkpatrick founded "Moms Fed Up," an organization dedicated to empowering women pursuing elected office. Always fortified by strong family bonds, Kirkpatrick continues to devote herself to public service. 

Gordon Waterfall

Gordon Waterfall, Class of 1965 (posthumous) 

Gordon Waterfall was known for his exceptional legal acumen, his rock-solid ethics, his wry sense of humor, and his core decency. Born in 1934, he spent his childhood in Southern California. After graduating from UC Berkeley, he served as Captain in the Air Force for two years, stationed in Marrakech. He moved to Tucson, Arizona, to attend the University of Arizona College of Law, graduating in 1965. Three years later Waterfall and his partners founded the Tucson firm of Waterfall, Economidis, Caldwell, Hanshaw, Villamana P.C.  Becoming one of Arizona’s most respected tax and estate lawyers, Waterfall rose to prominence in state and national professional associations. He was president of the Pima County Bar Association and later served as president of the Arizona State Bar. He was a Fellow of the American College of Tax Counsel and was Arizona State Chairman of the American College of Trust and Estate Counsel. As testament to his stature in the legal profession, Waterfall was honored by the University of Arizona College of Law with the Convocation Distinguished Alumni Award in 1990. Waterfall retired in 2017 after an exemplary legal career lasting 52 years.  

Waterfall’s commitment to higher education and to public service was legendary. He was a trusted counselor and friend to many Law College deans, serving for years as Treasurer and financial advisor for the Law College Association. He played a critical role in enabling the College of Law to continue growing and thriving despite reductions in state funding for public education. Waterfall also held leadership positions in myriad community organizations, including the Community Foundation of Southern Arizona, the Kino Learning Center, the Primavera Foundation, and the Murphey Foundation. He deeply enjoyed spending time with family and friends, whether in Tucson, at his home in Montana, or on travels to beautiful locations throughout the world. Always eager for challenges, he climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro at the age of 77.