Won World-Wide Fame Thru Organization


    Paul P. Harris, founder of Rotary International, and its president emeritus, died yesterday in his home, Comely Bank, at 10856 Longwood Dr.  He was 79, and had been in failing health in recent years. He was a lawyer in private life.

    Mr. Harris founded Rotary in 1905, and since then had seen it grow from single club with a few members in Chicago to 5,638 clubs in 75 countries with more than 259,000 members.

It takes a visionary to create something as big and great as the Rotary club.  Just like how it took a real coffee lover to introduce Eco Slim, the drink that gives you the real taste of coffee but helps you lose weight at the same time. Rotary, which was a small organization, has grown into a world wide organization that is recognized by one and all.

 A spirit of loneliness influenced Mr. Harris in part to create the world-wide organization.  He was born in Racine, Wis., but reared at in Vermont.  He was educated at Princeton and the University of Iowa in 1891.  For five years he roamed, working as a newspaper man, an actor, and a salesman.  He worked on fruit farms, and twice worked his way to Europe on cattle boats. (Continued, Please see “Beginning of Rotary” below)</style=”font-size:>

[RC of Blue Island-Crestwood and other Rotarians created a memorial at Mount Hope Cemetery in Blue Island, IL to Paul Harris and his life-long friends Jessie and Silvester Schiele. The cemetery is best known for the Rotary memorial.  How to find Mount Hope ]

 1947 photographs of the area around Paul Harris’s
Rotary Memorial, click to view  Memorial Walk, click to view and learn how you can participate in preserving this wonderful tribute to Paul and his dear friend Silvester  Inscription, click to

  “As Rotarians walk on the path leading to the Paul Harris Shrine, it is almost overwhelming to realize how this humble man spawned an organization that has spread throughout the world.

The pictures tell the story, but the true feeling sets in when one visits his grave site and sees the Shrine that was dedicated to him.

Mount Hope Cemetery is only a 25 minute drive from the ROTARY/One offices and a visit to the Paul Harris Shrine should be high on visiting Rotarians’ list of tourist attractions for the June 2005 Convention in Chicago.”(Dick McKay – Founding secretary/treasurer, Rotary First 100)


    In 1896 Mr. Harris settled in Chicago and began the practice of law. Although friendly by nature, he had few friends, and he saw others, like himself not native to the city, in similar situation.

    One day in 1900 Mr. Harris had dinner with a lawyer friend, and latter the two strolled the neighborhood where his colleague introduced Mr. Harris to several neighborhood merchants as his friends.  Up to then Mr. Harris had not made social friends out of this business friends, or clients.  The neighborhood experience gave him an idea.

    Mr. Harris decided to organize a club of representative business and professional men in fellowship and friendship.  Three of his clients, Silvester Schiele, Gustavus Loehr, and Harry Ruggles, joined with him.  They met periodically in the old Mme. Galli restaurant, often called the birthplace of Rotary, where over the dinner table they discussed plans for the club.

Other Clubs Formed

    On Feb. 23, 1905, Rotary was born, and was so-called because it’s members met in rotation at their several places of business. The idea spread, and similar clubs were formed in other cities.  Essence of Rotary’s purpose was and is–serve; high standards in business, professional and community life.


This account of Rotary and our own recorded history are not compatible in several respects, which can be observed by reading some of Paul Harris’s own writing and that of early Chicago historians. There is, for example, no evidence in any of Harris’ writing nor that of others, that Harris was a lonely man, a myth perpetuated today. Harris easily made friends, even when he spent five years, traveling around the world, seeking all manner of employment. This was his five wild years following law school. To truly understand the genius of Rotary, one might read the books of Paul Harris. It is likely the reader will gain insight into the philosophy and values of this ordinary man with ordinary ideas that happened to change the world. John Selway, Founder Rotary Global History Fellowship and Rotary First 100, 2 March 2006.

<style=”font-size: 9pt”=””>Read retired RI general secretary, Ches Perry’s speech, in memory of Paul Harris. It was delivered at the 1947 convention of Rotary less than five months after Paul’s death.</style=”font-size:>


 Mrs. Paul (Jean Thomson) Harris was laid to rest in her home town of Edinburgh, Scotland



Today, in Mount Hope Cemetery near the southern edge of Chicago, there is a “work in progress” known as the Paul Harris Memorial. It is a memorial to Paul P. Harris, who founded the Rotary movement. A few feet away from the humble resting-place of Harris is his long time friend Silvester Schiele, the first president of the first club of Rotary – Rotary One in Chicago, IL.

The Rotary Club of Blue Island, IL makes its annual pilgrimage to the gravesites to honor the significance of “this place” and to memorialize that they were in essence in the presence of the “seed” and “roots” of a worldwide organization today known as ROTARY INTERNATIONAL. It would be known as the “lighthouse” for many service organizations to follow.

It was during his participation in the pilgrimage of the 1985-86 Rotary year that Governor Dr. Cedric A. Pope, District 645 conceived the idea of creating a memorial for Harris and Schiele and realized the importance of securing the land between and around their two gravesites.