Dr. Ronald "Bugsy" Gene Lewis passed on Sunday April 14th at age 77 from the effects of cancer in Columbia, South Carolina. He was a devoted and caring father as well as an activist for his Cherokee community and on behalf of all people of color.
He was born in Muskogee, Oklahoma as a citizen of the Cherokee Nation. He was the first American Indian to earn a PhD in Social Work, becoming known as the "Father of American Indian Social Work." He was the first American Indian tenured in the University of Wisconsin system, first American Indian Full Professor in the field of Social Work, and first indigenous person to hold the position of "Dean" in Canada. Dr. Lewis forged new policies to protect American Indian people, especially children, contributing to the creation of the landmark Indian Child Welfare Act of 1978.
He joins his mother, Ruby Jean Lewis (Lansford); father, Paul Clifford Lewis; and daughter, Jennifer Ann Lewis in passing. He is survived by his siblings Don Lewis, Bennie Lewis (Malinda), and Paula Webb (Jackie); three daughters, Rhonda Lewis, Courtney Lewis (Christopher), and Melissa Lewis (Joseph); four grandchildren, Elizabeth Morenzoni, Nicholas Morenzoni, Catherine Morenzoni, and Amayi Lewis-Erb.
In lieu of flowers, the family asks that you consider donating to Cherokee Nation ICWA efforts, Native American Rights Fund, or the Sierra Club.
Published on May 8, 2019