Over the course of his life, University of Lethbridge chancellor Richard Davidson has served the city of Lethbridge in a number of capacities, many from the volunteer perspective. So it was only fitting that the Rotary Club of Lethbridge and the Lethbridge Herald recognized Davidson as the Lethbridge Citizen of the Year at a luncheon Monday afternoon.
"Clearly in his law practice, his work with the Chamber of Commerce, his work with the University of Lethbridge and his work with virtually every other volunteer organization you could imagine, this is one cool dude," says Lethbridge mayor elect Bob Tarleck, who also presented Davidson with a key to the city. "This is the highest honour we can bestow upon anyone and Richard is extremely deserving."
Born and raised in Lethbridge, Davidson earned both his bachelor and law degrees from the University of Alberta. He was appointed a Queen's Counsel in 1986 and is a partner at the law firm of Davidson & Williams, following in the footsteps of two previous generations of Davidson lawyers.
It is his service beyond his professional capacity however that has earned him the city's recognition.
"This tradition has grown in importance in the community because it's our opportunity to recognize people who have been tremendous builders in Lethbridge and southern Alberta," says Tarleck of the Citizen of the Year Award.
Lethbridge West MLA Greg Weadick says that Davidson's talent of bringing clarity to complicated discussions with divergent views is exceptional.
"He is always able to find that nut that you are looking for, that key element that brings it all together and it really is a unique talent he owns," says Weadick.
"He's one of those people that I can honestly say, when Richard comes to a meeting to speak, people stop and listen because he always has a well thought-out approach that people respect."
In 2000, Davidson was awarded the Law Society of Alberta Distinguished Service Award for Service to the Community.
He was an honouree at the University of Lethbridge Faculty of Management Scholarship Dinner in March 2002, and has received numerous community service awards, including the Commemoration Medal for the 125th Anniversary of the Confederation of Canada by the Governor General in 1992, the Queen's Golden Jubilee Medal in 2002 and the Alberta Centennial Medal in 2005.
Actively involved in the Lethbridge Bar Association and a current member of the Law Society of Alberta, the Canadian Bar Association, the K-40 Club of Lethbridge and the Lethbridge Country Club, Davidson's community service is extensive. He has served numerous organizations as either president, chairman or as a member of the board of directors. These organizations include: Kinsmen Club of Lethbridge; The Lethbridge Community Foundation; Lethbridge Society for Meals on Wheels; the United Way of Lethbridge and Southwestern Alberta; the City of Lethbridge Economic Development Advisory Committee; the Small Business Development Centre Committee; Lethbridge & District Community Futures Board of Directors; the YWCA Advisory Board; the Kidney Foundation of Canada; the Lethbridge Regional Hospital Foundation; the Lethbridge Country Club; the YMCA of Lethbridge; and the Chinook Health Region.
Through it all, he has performed in a selfless and humble manner.
"I'm blown away by all of this. I can honestly say I've truly enjoyed the time I've spent in the various volunteer activities I've pursued," says Davidson. "I'm deeply honoured. I know the people who came before me and I could not be more honoured to have my name put forward with the previous year's recipients. I am greatly honoured and very humbled."
He follows in the footsteps of previous winners Val Matteotti (2006), Dr. Gerald Bowie (2007), Del Allen (2008) and Dr. Keith Robin (2009).