Founder of Rotary


Paul Percy Harris was born in Racine, Wisconsin, USA, on 19April.


Paul's father fell on hard times and, for economic reasons, Paulanzd his older brother Cecil were taken to Wallingford,Vermont, USA, where they were raised by their paternal grandparents, for whom Paul maintained a deep love the rest of his life.


He enrolled at the University of Vermont. He was expelled after being wrongly accused of taking part in the hazing of a freshman. Subsequently, in 1933, the university conferred on Paul an honorary doctoral degree.


He entered Princeton University, New Jersey.


Paul's grandfather died. Paul left Princeton and took a job with the Sheldon Marble Company.


Paul went to Des Moines, Iowa, where he read law preparatory to entering the law department of the State University of Iowa in Iowa City.


Paul's grandmother died.


Paul graduated from the law department in June. The graduation address, by an attorney who was an alumnus of the school, emphasized the value of broadening oneself through travel and new experiences. Paul resolved to take five years in which to travel and work at various trades before actually beginning a law practice. He went to San Francisco, where he got a job on the Chronicle as a reporter. He became close friend with another reporter, Harry Pulliam, who had from Louisville, Kentucky, and who later in life became president of the National Baseball League. He and Pulliam decided to work their way around California as fruit pickers and ended up in Los Angeles, where Paul got a job as a teacher in a business college.


Paul left Los Angeles, went to Denver, Colorado, USA, and joined a theatrical company as an actor. Later, he got a job as a reporter and then worked on a ranch near Platteville, Colorado. He moved to Jacksonville, Florida, USA, got a job as night clerk in the St. James Hotel then became a traveling salesman for a marble and granite concern owned by George W Clark, who became a good friend of Paul's. Years later, George Clark organized and became the first president of the Rotary Club of Jacksonville.


In March, Paul went to Washington, D.C., to observe the inauguration of Grover Cleveland as president of the United States. Subsequently, he went to Louisville, Kentucky. Unable to get a job, he joined another company and traveled throughout Kentucky, Tennessee, Georgia, and Virginia, USA. In Norfolk, Virginia, he quit his job as salesman and took a boat to Philadelphia, where he answered an advertisement for a cattleman by a Baltimore, Maryland, USA, concern making a shipment to England. He signed on and set sail for England. He stayed in Liverpool and its suburbs briefly before setting sail for the return, disappointed at not having had the opportunity to see London. He resolved to sign on another ship as soon as possible to return to England. On return to Baltimore, he took a job on a ship to England. Finally reaching London, he visited the many historic places. He also spent time in Wales.

Back in the United States, Paul went by train to Chicago to visit the Columbian Exposition. He was intrigued by Chicago's atmosphere of boldness and vigor, which was to lure him back to that city when he finally chose to settle down. Leaving Chicago, he moved on to New Orleans, Louisiana. Caught in a hurricane and tidal wave, he assisted in the rescue operations.

After failing to get a job on a newspaper in New Orleans, he returned to Jacksonville, Florida, to his old position with the marble and granite company. He was given a territory covering the southern United States, Cuba, and the Bahama Islands.


A year after going back to Jacksonville, Paul was sent to Europe by the granite and marble company as a buyer from quarries. He visited all major European countries while there. After returning to Jacksonville from his European tour, he chose to leave his job with the granite company, when his friend George Clark made him temporary manager of the New York office so he could experience life in that city.


Having fulfilled his plan for traveling and broadening himself over a five-year period, Paul moved to Chicago at the end of Chicago became February to open a law office. his permanent home, and through the years he maintained a successful law practice.


Paul visited his boyhood scenes in Vermont and became aware of his lack of close friends in his adopted hometown of Chicago. Back in Chicago, he visited the home of a business friend in the autumn and, following a walk in which he was introduced to various merchants in the neighborhood, Paul conceived the idea of a club that could recapture some of the friendly spirit among businessmen in small communities. He made no attempt, to put his idea into practice until five years later.


Paul met three young business acquaintances — Silvester Schiele, Gustavus Loehr, and Hiram Shorey — in Loehr's office and explained his idea of a different kind of businessmen's club, one in which the various businesses and professions of a community are represented. Rotary was born from this meeting on 23 February.


Paul met and courted Jean Thomson, a young lass who had immigrated from Scotland, and married her.


Paul and Jean acquired a home in a suburb of Chicago and named it "Comely Bank" after the street in Edinburgh, Scotland, where Jean had spent her childhood and youth. This was to be Paul's home until his death 35 years later.

And Paul maintained his law office for most of the remainder of his life. In fact, his law after partnership, with which he was associated until 1946, continues to this day in Chicago under the name of Davis & Cichorski. In addition, office space was maintained for him, as first president and president emeritus, at the Rotary International World Headquarters in Chicago. He spent much time traveling and was invited to speak to Rotarians at annual conventions, district and regional meetings, and other functions.