HISTORY OF ROTARY INTERNATIONAL
“WHATEVER ROTARY MAY MEAN TO US, TO THE WORLD IT WILL BE KNOWN BY THE RESULTS IT ACHIEVES.” —PAUL P. HARRIS The first four Rotarians (from left): Gustavus Loehr, Silvester Schiele, Hiram Shorey, and Paul P. Harris, circa 1905-12.
What is Rotary? Rotary is an organization of business and professional leaders united worldwide who provide humanitarian service, encourage high ethical standards in all vocations, and help build goodwill and peace in the world. In more than 160 countries worldwide, approximately 1.2 million Rotarians belong to more than 34,000 Rotary clubs.
Rotary club membership represents a cross-section of the community's business and professional men and women. The world's Rotary clubs typically meet weekly, or less frequently, depending on recommend practice from RI and the Council on Legislation. Rotary clubs are nonpolitical, nonreligious, and open to all cultures, races, and creeds.
The main objective of Rotary is service — in the community, in the workplace, and throughout the world. Rotarians develop community service projects that address many of today's most critical issues, such as children at risk, poverty and hunger, the environment, illiteracy, and violence. They also support programs for youth, educational opportunities and international exchanges for students, teachers, and other professionals, and vocational and career development. The Rotary motto is Service above Self.
Who started it? Paul P. Harris, an attorney, wanted to create a professional group with the same friendly spirit he felt in the small towns of his youth.
When did it begin? On 23 February 1905, Harris, Gustavus Loehr, Silvester Schiele, and Hiram Shorey gathered at Loehr’s office in Room 711 of the Unity Building in downtown Chicago. This was the first Rotary club meeting. They decided to call the new club “Rotary” after the practice of rotating meeting locations.
Why was it created? Our 1.2 million-member organization started with the vision of one man—Paul P. Harris. The Chicago attorney formed one of the world’s first service organizations, the Rotary Club of Chicago, on 23 February 1905 as a place where professionals with diverse backgrounds could exchange ideas and form meaningful, lifelong friendships. Rotary’s name came from the group’s early practice of rotating meetings among the offices of each member.
Where did it begin? The world’s first service organization began in Chicago and within five years clubs had formed across the country, from San Francisco to New York. In August 1910, Rotarians held their first convention in Chicago. The 16 clubs that existed at that time united to form the National Association of Rotary Clubs.
In 1912, the name changed to International Association of Rotary Clubs to reflect the addition of clubs in other countries. The name Rotary International was adopted in 1922.
By July 1925, Rotary had grown to more than 2,000 clubs and an estimated 108,000 members on six continents.
Rotary’s reputation attracted presidents, prime ministers, and a host of other luminaries to its ranks — among them author Thomas Mann, diplomat Carlos P. Romulo, and composer Jean Sibelius. As Rotary grew, members pooled their resources and used their talents to serve their communities. The organization's dedication to this ideal is best expressed in its motto: Service Above Self.
THE FOUR-WAY TEST
In 1932, Rotarian Herbert J. Taylor created The Four-Way Test. The test, which has been translated into more than 100 languages, asks the following questions: Of the things we think, say or do
Is it the TRUTH?
Is it FAIR to all concerned?
Will it build GOODWILL and BETTER FRIENDSHIPS?
Will it be BENEFICIAL to all concerned?
In 2012, District 7450 Governor Dave Ellis, in his monthly newsletter (http://www.rotary7450.org/common/Newsletter-July-2012.pdf) encourages us to continue the drive to enlist new members, eradication of Polio worldwide, assist those in needs within our communities and worldwide, and invites us to strive for a world of “Peace through Service.”
In 2014, King of Prussia Rotary President, Barbara McMullan , challenged several Rotarians to develop and present a new training program for the club, “Rotary 101” which was recently introduced on 25 July, 2014.
Below is a compilation of “Notable Rotarians,” whose efforts on behalf of Rotary may be less well known than their public personas.
Adlai Stevenson Dr. Charles Mayo
US Ambassador to UN Co-Founder Mayo Clinic
Col. Harlan Sanders Diane Feinstein
Kentucky Fried Chicken US Senator
Famous Honorary Rotarians
Sir. Winston Churchill Neil Armstrong
Dwight Eisenhower Walt Disney
King of Prussia Rotary
Paul Vaughan Bill Wilson
District Governor Club Charter Member
Arthur Powell Henry Poor
Founder Kravco Director Emeritus
The reality is that in our club every Rotarian has made a significant impact on the “King of Clubs” throughout our 60 years of providing “Service above Self” to our community. This can be measured in so many tangible ways when we examine the benefits we have provided through our King of Prussia Rotary Charitable Foundation.