Paul P. Harris, a lawyer, was the founder of Rotary, the first and most effective international service
club. Born in Racine, Wisconsin, USA on April 19, 1868, Paul was the second of six children of
George N. Harris and Cornelia Bryan Harris. When he was 3 years old he moved to Wallingford,
Vermont where he grew up in the care of their paternal grandparents. Married to Jean Thompson
Harris, had no children. He received a L.L.B. Degree from University of Lowa and received a L.L.D.
(Honorary) University of Vermont...
Harris worked as a newspaper reporter, a professor of finance, cowboy, and traveled extensively in USA and Europe selling marble and granite. In 1896 he went to Chicago to practice law. One evening Paul visited the house of a friend in a suburb. After dinner took a stroll around the neighborhood, paul's friend introduced him to various tradesmen in their shops. This was when he came up with the idea of forming a club that could capture the friendly spirit among businessmen in small communities.
On February 23, 1905, Harris formed the first club with three other businessmen: Silverter Schiele, a coal merchant, Gustavus Loehr, a mining engineer and Hiram Shorcy, a merchant tailor. Paul Harris named it Rotary Club because member met rotating between their businesses. Soon Paul became convinced that Rotary Club could be transformed into a major movement of service, and tried to expand Rotary to other cities.....
Paul was recognised in both professional and civic work served as the first chairman of the board of the Easter Seal Society of Crippled Children and Adults, in the United States and the International society for Crippled Children. He was a member of the board of directors of the Chicago Bar Association and its representative at the International Congress of law of Hague. At Buffalo he received the Gold Award of the Boy Scouts of America for outstanding service to youth and was decorated by the governments of Brazil, Chile, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Peru and France.
Paul maintained his law firm for the rest of his life. Spent much time traveling and was invited to speak to Rotarians at annual conventions, district and regional meetings and other functions. When Harris died on January 27, 1947, his dream had grown from an informal meeting of four gentlemen over 6,000 clubs. In the last six decades, the organization has grown to more than 34,000 clubs with 1.2 million members, brought together through the vision of service and camaraderie created by Paul Harris.