My Road to Rotary by Paul Harris

* Chapters from Paul's beginning Rotary years
Chapter 33 - The First Rotary Club

Back in Chicago, it was still necessary to eat humble pie but my appetite remained good. Week days, though they brought me many disappointments, had one advantage-business kept me from thinking about myself. Sundays and holidays were my days of sorrow, I could go to the downtown churches Sunday mornings, but during the long Sunday afternoons I was desperately lonely. Oh, for the green fields of my New England Valley and the voice of a kindly old friend! Strolls through city parks were far from satisfying; there was too much artificiality, and among the thousands of strollers there was not one familiar face. There is no place like a city park on a Sunday afternoon to feel one's loneliness; the very presence of so many strangers accentuated it more than boundless expanses of land and water could have done. Even the music of excellent bands failed to dispel my gloom. My truant thoughts drifted back to the scenes of my boyhood; the swimming hole by the covered bridge over Otter Creek and many other sacred places; I was at times inundated by tidal waves of memories of rambles with friends over hills and mountains.

There were certain spots in the Chicago parks which reminded me of my valley but they were frequented by so many other persons that they gave me little repose. Some Sundays, I went farther out into the country but even there tranquility was lacking. All-day excursions across Lake Michigan by boat gave me temporary relief but afforded no escape from the crowds; in fact, the boats were always loaded to their capacity with men, women and children. I took my scanty meals at German, Scandinavian, Italian, Greek, and Hungarian restaurants. I made acquaintances but not real friends. Chicago beaches swarmed with bathers and picknickers and played their important parts in the recreational life of hundreds of thousands of city toilers. All praise to the indefatigable efforts of unselfish men and women responsible for the establishment of parks and playgrounds to which all could have access without price. Everywhere there were people but nowhere a familiar face.

To me one essential was lacking, the presence of friends. Emerson said, "He who has a thousand friends has not a friend to spare. In my earliest days in my adopted city, I had neither the thousand nor the one.

Betterment in human affairs comes through travail. Someone first has to visualize the need and suffering clarifies the vision as nothing else could. I saw the great need of human companionship as I never could have seen it without such experiences as above outlined. Perhaps it was part and parcel of the cosmic scheme; surely it was made apparent to me that men must have the companionship of those of their kind.

The thought persisted that I was experiencing only what had happened to hundreds, perhaps thousands, of others in the great city, came to me. I was sure that there must be many other young men who had come from farms and small villages to establish themselves in Chicago. In fact I knew a few. Why not bring them together? If the others were longing for fellowship as I was, something would come of it.

One evening I went with a professional friend to his suburban home. After dinner as we strolled about the neighborhood my friend greeted by name various tradesmen at their stores. This reminded me of my New England village. The thought caine to me why not in big Chicago have a fellowship composed of just one man from each of many different occupations, without restrictions as to their politics or religion, with broad tolerance of each other's opinions? In such a fellowship could there not be mutual helpfulness?

I did not act upon my impulse at once; months and even years passed. In the life of great movements it is necessary that one man who has faith walk alone for a time. I did walk alone but eventually in February 1905 I called three young business men to meet with me and I laid before them a very simple plan of mutual co-operation and informal friendship such as all of us had once known in our villlages. They agreed to my plan

Silvester Schiele, my most intimate Chicago friend, and one of the three who first met with me, was made our first president, and has been a constant member. Gustavus Loehr and Hiram Shorey were the other two but they failed to follow through. On the other hand Harry Ruggles, Charley Newton, and others who were quickly added to the group, with hearty zest joined in developing the project.

We grew in numbers, in fellowship, in the spirit of helpfulness to each other and to our city. The banker and the baker, the parson and the plumber, the lawyer and the iaundryman discovered the similarity of each other's ambitions, problems, successes and failures. We learned how much we had in common. We found joy in being of service to one another. Again I seemed to be back in my New England Valley.

At a third meeting of the group, I presented several suggestions as a name for the club, among them Rotary, and that name was selected as we were then holding our meetings in rotation at our offices and places of business. Later, still rotating, we held our meetings at various hotels and restaurants. Thus we began as "Rotarians," and such we continue to be.

I took no office of any character during the first two years of the Chicago club but I nominated the officers and my judgment was generally followed in the administration of the club. As I look back at it now I must have seemed very dictatorial at times. If so it was because of my devotion to the undertaking. The third year I was elected president and my ambitions then were-first, to advance the growth of the Chicago club; second, to extend the movement to other cities; third, to intensify community service as one of the club's objectives.

That was the genesis of a great movement, the name of which is familiar to many who read this book. From that humble start has grown a present fellowship of a quarter-million business and professional men. Rotary has made itself at home in seventy different countries; in truth it is said that the sun never sets on Rotary.

My reward has been exceedingly great. To have friends all over the world is a great blessing. To know that these friends are also friends of each other is a satisfying thought. The salutation, "Good Morning, Paul!" which gladdened my heart in boyhood days in my valley is now the greeting of my fellow Rotarians and continues to be sweet music in my ears, whether it be spoken by rich or poor, young or old.

To the members of the small group which came together in the big city of Chicago, Rotary was like an oasis in a desert. Their meetings were different from the meetings of other clubs in those days. They were far more intimate; far more friendly. All hampering and meaningless restraint was thrown off; dignified reserve was checked at the door; the members were boys again. To me, attendance at a club meeting was very like being back home in my valley.

The original concept of Rotary has expanded; its ideals have been formulated; its objectives have been set forth; but intimate and informal fellowship remains a vital element in its structure. Sir Henry Braddon has said:

"One way in which Rotary develops the individual is in preserving the boy in him. Deep down in the heart of every good fellow there is a boy, a boy whose outlook on life is rather wonderful, unspoiled, with no prejudice, no intolerance, with keen enthusiasm, ready friendliness. It is a sad day for a man when the boy can be said to have passed away. As long as a man keeps his mind resilient, his nature open to friendly influences, he will never grow entirely old. Rotary encourages and helps to develop him by keeping the boy alive in him"

Several of the original Rotarians had been raised on farms and the majority of them were country or small town boys who had gravitated to the big city. While not self-made men they were in the process of making and most of them had made sufficient progress to justify the assumption that success in considerable degree was to be realized in the future. Some had received the benefits of college education-more had not.

They helped each other in every way that kindly heart and friendly spirit could suggest. In the main the efforts were directed to helping each other in business; helping each other to attain success. They patronized each other when it was practical to do so, exerted helpful influence, and gave wise counsel when needed. Some realized business advantages, others did not. All realized the advantages of fellowship.

As the membership of the Chicago group increased we had a cross-section, so far as it went, of our city, each member representing an honorable calling different from all others in the membership, each viewing it as a special privilege to be selected as a representative of his vocation and appreciative of his responsibility incident thereto,

It is not the purpose of Rotary to make social, religious or racial composites of its members. Rotary brings business and professional men differing in social status, religious beliefs, and nationality together in order that they may be more intelligible to each other and therefore more sympathetic and friendly and helpful.

In January 1908 two new members were added to our ranks, then over a hundred strong-Arthur Frederick Sheldon and Chesley H. Perry, both of whom were destined to make their contributions to the movement, It developed that these two men had met several years before when Sheldon, as the head of a book-selling outfit, had invaded the Chicago public library where Perry was a member of the staff and sold him a set of history volumes. Talk about carrying coals to Newcastle! Not long after that Sheldon founded a school of salesmanship based on the idea that successful salesmanship depended upon rendering service and that no transaction was justified unless both parties thereto benefited by it. Sheldon was a natural for our group. He was no Kickapoo Indian medicine vendor. Wherever the English language is spoken, Sheldon students are found. The writer has been pleased to find many among Rotarian leaders abroad. For the Edinburgh convention in 1921 Sheldon was selected by the program committee as the one best qualified to interpret to British Rotarians the ideal of service as understood in America. The invitation was accepted and those who heard the message say it was as of one inspired.

It is conceivable that Rotary might have been born under sunnier skies, in a climate more equable, and in a city of mental composure; but on the other hand many will contend that there could have been no more favorable birthplace for such a movement as Rotary than paradoxical Chicago where fifty years ago the battle for civic righteousness was being so fiercely waged. The forces of righteousness were then rallying. Chicago was emerging. The close of the old, and the first decade of the new century brought the beautiful Columbian Exposition, the establishment of a great university on a beautiful parkway, an expanded public library, the beginning of a great association of commerce, magnificent museums, a fine symphony orchestra, various civic improvement organizations, Jane Adams' famous Hull House and other neighborhood settlements- and Rotary.

There could have been no time more opportune than the beginning of the twentieth century for the genesis of such a movement as Rotary, nor any city better suited than virile, aggressive, paradoxical Chicago in which to nurture it. The ills with which Chicago was afflicted in those days were also prevalent elsewhere in the country. Generally speaking, business was in a bad way. Practices were not in accord with high ethical principles with respect to consumers, employees or competitors. Community spirit was at a low ebb almost everywhere. It was time for a change for the better. It had to come.

Out of America's unrivalled metropolis of the Middle West came Rotary, out of a great social maelstrom where racial, political, economic and religious extremes met, clashed, and ultimately merged into a semblance of homogeneity. Even today the melting pot is stll boiling furiously in Chicago and patriotic citizens are still endeavoring to cast wholesome ingredients into the pot in full faith that the final product will be delectable. In 1905, in the City by the Lake, Rotary was one scene in a drama that was being enacted. The dramatis personae of that scene were men of the ordinary walks of life; business and professional men. While perhaps lacking qualities that would have distinguished them from others of their kind, it may nevertheless be said that they were fairly representative of what in common parlance would have been termed "the better element."

Chapter 34 - Rotary Begins to Spread

The inventor of the first Rotary club was more conscious of its deficiencies than anyone else. He rejoiced to see it expand to helpfulness to others outside the membership of the club, He dreamed of similar clubs in other cities.

Rotarians and other folks as well sometimes think that Rotary advanced from city to city and from country to country very much as Topsy grew. That it developed of its own accord and without effort on the part of anyone. No, Rotary has not grown by virtue of the fact that a suitable formula had been devised; it has become world wide in its influence because of the untiring effort to extend it.

My relations with my friends of the Chicago club constituted a remarkable illustration of the binding power of Rotary. Notwithstanding the fact that Rotary had come to mean to me something very different from what it still meant to some of them, our friendship remained unaffected.

The Doubting Thomas's were ever present. There's but one way to convince a Doubting Thomas and that is to do the thing he says can't be done and on that basis the Doubting Thomas who said it would not be possible to organize Rotary clubs in any city other than Chicago became convinced that it could and should be done.

It was disappointing to me but most of my fellow Chicago Rotarians refused to be stampeded into my "Rotary Around the World" phantasy. Nothing is more disconcerting than the blank look of friends to whom one's hopes are unintelligable. I soon learned that the best way to get things done was to do them myself.

So I proceeded to address myself to the task of getting Rotary Clubs started in cities throughout the United States. In this work circumstances required that the effort be made by correspondence. My classmates in the three universities, Vermont, Princeton, and Iowa, and friends I had made in my five years of vagabondage were my natural recourse.

It was a long and frequently a painful grind; there were headaches and heartaches in plenty, but there were also periods of joy and elation. And all the while I was trying to keep up my law practice.

Three long years passed before the first victory was scored. To find the right man to organize a Rotary Club in a given city was not easy. Manuel Munoz proved to be the right man to carry the message to San Francisco. He had been my room mate in the Del Prado Hotel in Chicago and was fairly well versed in Rotary. While on a business trip to San Francisco, then rebuilding after its earthquake and fire, Munoz interested Homer Wood, a lawyer, and put him into correspondence with me. The result was that in November, 1908 we had our second Rotary club. As if that were not enough, alert San Franciscans organized Rotary club number three in Oakland, club number four in Seattle, and club number five in Los Angeles. New York and Boston were next and other cities followed. Some of the Doubting Thomases were won over and joined in the extension work.

And so it went on from city to city and eventually from country to country and my five years of vagabondage served me in good stead. After all, I was only leading Rotary over trails I had already blazed.

Had my leadership been more skillful or my plans more definitely worked out in advance, I doubtless could have secured the full cooperation of Chicago Rotarians and gone forward with a solid front. As a matter of fact, my conception of Rotary was undergoing evolutionary processes, almost revolutionary at times. I had preached the doctrine of carefree fellowship. I had been freest of the free, gayest of the gay, my voice had lead in song and laughter. Members were satisfied with that order. Now was something quite different. In this dilemna, it seemed easier to organize new clubs with new and progressive thoughts than to reconvert old members.

Our success in the United States inspired us to project Rotary over the boundary line into Canada. After two unsuccessful attempts the right man eventually was interested and the first club outside the United States was organized in Winnipeg, Canada. Other Canadian cities followed Winnipeg's lead.

Flushed with success, we then felt that it was of vital importance to get things started in Great Britain and of course, London was the choice of all cities. To win London to the movement was a grand objective and in course of time, the opportunity opened up.

My friend Arthur Frederic Sheldon had a representative in London and was soon to visit him. Rotarian Harvey C. Wheeler of Boston had his business located both in Boston and London. It was not difficult for Sheldon to enthuse his representative, E. Sayer Smith, and with the cooperation of Wheeler, the Rotary Club of London was organized. Wheeler became its first president. There are seventy fine Rotary clubs in greater London now and the total number of Rotarians in that city exceeds the number of any other city in the world.

Having gotten their hands in. Sheldon and Smith went to Manchester and duplicated their London achievement. I was pluming myself on having initiated the first two British Clubs when Secretary Perry and I learned that Stuart Morrow, an Irishman who had learned about Rotary while travelling in the United States, had upon his return to Dublin proceeded to organize a Rotary club there. He had already moved on to Belfast. Needless to say we contacted Morrow at once and authorized and encouraged him to continue his labors in Edinburgh, Glasgow, Birmingham, and Liverpool. The five hundred Rotary clubs subsequently developed in Great Britain and Ireland have been a bulwark for the movement.

The Latin American countries were next to occupy our attention and we soon interested an American business man who had business which took him to Havana, Cuba. He was a man of high ideals and much ability and though he spent some time for Rotary in Havana he was entirely unsuccessful and returned convinced that Rotary was an Anglo-Saxon idea that could not be understood or accepted by other races, but two members of the Tampa, Florida, Rotary Club, Angel Cuesta and John Turner, subsequently proved that my emissary to Cuba was mistaken and those who have been privileged to become acquainted with our splendid Latin American Rotarians of today know how erroneous his conclusions were. Cuesta and Turner organized a good club in Havana, Cuba, and Cuesta, pleased with his success, made a trip to his native country, Spain, and organized a Rotary Club in Madrid; the first club on the continent of Europe.

Angel not only financed his trip to Spain but before leaving gave a substantial sum of money to further community service in the city of his nativity. Having accomplished his self-appointed task, Angel returned to his adopted country with never a word of his exploits except as the facts were drawn from him. This man knew not what he had done. He had opened up both Latin America and Europe for Rotary.

Heriberto Coates of Montevideo learned of Rotary while on a visit to the United States and went home to develop Clubs in Montevideo, Buenos Aires and other South American cities.

Fred Teele, an American civil engineer gave up an eighteen thousand dollar per year position in Mexico, after having served as president of the Mexico City Rotary Club, to accept a five thousand dollar job spreading Rotary in Europe on the foundation laid by Cuesta and others who had sown the seed in France, Holland, Denmark and other countries. Teele's labors culminated in the opening of an office of the R. I. secretariat in Zurich, Switzerland.

Two Canadian Rotarians, "Jim" Davidson of Calgary and Col. J. L. Ralston of Halifax, gave their time gratuitously to open up Australia and New Zealand. Rotary had by that time become prosperous enough to pay their expenses. Some years later Davidson undertook the organization of clubs in Southern Europe, Egypt, India, the Straits Settlements, Siam, China, and Japan, thus completing the round-the-world chain. He worked without compensation other than the expenses of himself and wife. This trip of the Davidsons took three years. Jim left America with full understanding that he had not long to live. He lasted until the completion of his task but died soon after his return.

While the cases mentioned above are conspicuous examples it may in truth be said that many thousands of Rotarians of high standing in business affairs have given of themselves generously in the cause of Rotary. The gratuitous work of devoted Rotarians in widening the sphere of Rotary's usefulness has been amazing.

Everywhere in North America Rotary Clubs came into existence by the hundreds and the thousands. Professional organizers were unnecessary. Every club had the impulse to pass on to other cities the idea which it had found so beneficial in its city. Clubs were grouped into districts and local Rotarians were elected annually as "district governors." They accepted the responsibility for extension in their districts and for the further advancement of Rotary's objects and practices. They and their colleagues, the governors of districts in all parts of the world, have been and always will be the great unifying and steadying force of Rotary.

While the record of extension is one of the most interesting chapters in Rotary history, the development of its ideals and practices has gone on apace. Deeds preceded the written word. After service had been rendered in manifold forms, the word "service" with all its varied meanings and implications was written in the Rotary plan. Rotary expanded from a local group, gathered together in the city of Chicago for mutual advantage and fellowship, to an organization of international vision and unquestionable nobility of purpose.

Hundreds of small cities and towns, all but dead so far as civic consciousness was concerned, took on new life after they organized their Rotary clubs. Clean-up campaigns were inaugurated, Boy Scout troops were given leadership and support. Boys bands were organized. Languishing chambers of commerce were revived and new ones started. Boys camps were established. Rotarians were more than propagandists; they frequently constituted the entire working force. Those who could not contribute money, contributed labor. Rotarians in small towns became jacks-of-all-trades during the construction of camps. Anyone who could drive a nail could qualify as a carpenter, while druggists and grocers became bricklayers and plumbers when occasion demanded. The women served appetizing lunches and eventually won for themselves the endearing term of Rotaryanns. There never had been such doings since barn-raising days.

Those who had stoutly maintained that it was sheer idiocy to assert that Rotary was destined to make itself at home throughout the civilized world finally had to lower their colors; and yet that was my prediction at the first convention of Rotary Clubs held in Chicago in 1910, and again at Convention number two held at Portland, Oregon in 1911.

My contribution to the international scope of the movement came as the direct consequence of my five years of romantic vagrancy. How otherwise could I have had the vision of Rotary Clubs in

London, Paris, Rome, Berlin and other cities throughout the world? Some other person might have had the vision but not I.

There is wisdom in the expression, "There is nothing new under the sun." Perhaps the most unique feature of Rotary is its so-called classification plan by which membership is restricted to one representative of each business and profession, but two centuries before the conception of Rotary a social club existed in London the membership of which was based on vocational classifications, and Ben Franklin organized his "Junto" in Philadelphia on the classification plan. Many years ago "La Societe des Philantropes," with its headquarters in Strasbourg, France, was almost identical with Rotary in its idealism and purposes. Needless to say that knowledge of these organizations of the past did not come to the attention of the founders of Rotary until long after its birth.

The question is often asked; "Why do Rotary clubs limit membership to one man from each distinct business or profession?" Because our experiment has proved in operation that it makes for congenial fellowship, obviates business and professional jealousies, encourages mutual helpfulness, stimulates pride in the dignity of one's occupation, and broadens one's mind and sympathy with regard to the accomplishments and problems of other occupations.

There are many organizations the membership of which is confined to one profession or trade. Such organizations play exceedingly important parts in the modern world. They enable men of a given trade or profession to come together to exchange ideas and experiences and to discuss problems of common interest. No one thinks of them as exclusive, though they exclude all not engaged in their particular profession or trade; their success depends upon their so doing. An association of surgeons does not admit to their membership a manufacturer or a merchandiser. The success of the organization and its promise of usefulness depends upon its exclusion of men not versed in the science of surgery.

And while it is true that a surgeon can gain much from contact with his fellow surgeons, one who has social contact with surgeons only would become a dull fellow. He needs the broadening influence of contacts with those engaged in other professions and business undertakings. He will obtain such contacts to a limited extent in his church and social club, but the church and club are not organized to fill the particular need. If one is admitted to membership in a Rotary club, he will enjoy the broadening influence of contact with men of all vocations.

And it must not be overlooked that being a Rotarian imposes upon a man an obligation to carry into his trade association the ideals and precepts which he holds as a Rotarian. He should endeavor to make them appreciated and get them accepted by all in his line of business.

The writer is a member of the American Bar Association, Illinois State Bar Association, the Chicago Bar Association, and for two years had the honor of being chairman of the committee on professional ethics of the latter, a member of other committees, a delegate of the Chicago Bar Association to the International Congress on Comparative Law at the Hague, and a member of the International Committee of the American Bar Association. All positions afforded remarkable opportunities to carry the Rotary ideal of service to his profession. There are between eight and nine thousand lawyers in the city of Chicago, and the Chicago Bar Association has been doing titanic work in raising the standards of practice. Nearly three hundred lawyers have been made to walk the plank because they would not observe the canons of good practice.

Incidentally I was honored not only in being asked to serve at the Hague Conference but also by the fact that America's greatest legal scholar, Dean John H. Wigmore, was one of the two other representatives of the Chicago Bar Association. Dean Wigmore's body now lies in Arlington Cemetery in Washington but I am proud of my association with him at the Hague where a deep and lasting friendship was begun.

Chapter 35 - The Architect Finds a Builder

The Creator must have thought well of Rotary. I was worn and weary and discouraged at times. It seemed providential when in the third year of the Chicago Club there came one who, more than all others, has labored to make the dream come true. What Rotary would have done without him no one knows. I am sure much credit has been given to me for work done by him. While Chesley B. Perry associated himself with enthusiasm in the activities of the Chicago club, it took some time for him to become interested in the extension of the movement, When he did, I found him a helpful partner.

The conversion of Ches to "World Around" Rotary came about in a peculiar way. An incoming president of the Chicago club, not being in sympathy with the "World Widers," appointed Ches chairman of the club's extension committee thinking thus to spike the guns of those in favor of the wider viewpoint which he considered irrational and visionary.

I realized the necessity of doing one of two things, either losing entirely the sympathy of the Chicago club or converting the newly appointed chairman of the extension committee to the broader viewpoint.

So it came about that I called Ches by phone one Sunday when he had ample time to talk. During the course of the interview, Ches asked me the question: "Why do you think, Paul, that the Chicago club is as nothing compared with what you have in mind?"

I don't know how I answered but I considered the situation desperate and fired all of my broadsides in defense of my idea. Ches said little at the time but what he did say was enough. When I hung up the receiver, I felt convinced that I had won a friend to the cause. Shortly thereafter he and I, with the help of others, planned the formation of an association of the then existing clubs. Ches took the laboring oar in outlining and organizing the first convention of Rotary clubs.

Some of my fellow Chicago Rotarians had been helpful and encouraging. They saw possibilities in our own country but none seemed to visualize the possibilities of a world wide movement. The clubs organized in other cities were more helpful in developing a wider philosophy. They had a fresh outlook on the situation.

Chesley Perry seemed to be able to grasp and to fairly evaluate all essential features; he embraced Rotary intellectually as well as sentimentally. Never again was it necessary to fight the battle alone; Ches was always beside me or in front of me. He was definitely in the fight.

That first Rotary convention (of delegates from sixteen clubs) was held in the Congress Hotel in Chicago in August 1910. Chesley Perry was chosen by the delegates to preside over their sessions. A constitution and by-laws were drawn up and adopted. The delegates spent many hours discussing the meaning and potentialities of Rotary. The attendance at that first convention was less than 100 but twenty years later when the 21st Rotary Convention was held in Chicago observing 25 years of Rotary over 11,000 men and women were in attendance.

At the conclusion of the first Chicago convention I was elected as the president of the Association which had been formed, and Chesley Perry was chosen as its secretary. At the Portland Convention in 1911 I was re-elected as president for a second year and at my request Ches continued as secretary. At the 1912 convention in Duluth I retired from active service and was honored by being made "president emeritus" of Rotary International. For a third time Ches was elected secretary and his annual re-election became a matter of course until he retired in 1942.

That Ches Perry and I have been able to work so well together surely has been a great blessing to the organization. Has it perchance been due to the influence of Rotary upon us? Every worker who gives himself to a worthy cause is bound to realize some of its benefits.

Ches always pushed me to the front; confining his efforts largely to work at his desk where he served throughout the years, taking few vacations. His day was not an eight hour day; he generally could be found at his desk far into the night. Through such devotion he built up his fine staff of workers at Chicago and at other quarters throughout the world. If I can in truth be called the architect, Ches can with equal truth be called the builder of Rotary International.

Headquarters was developed on very democratic lines. We never considered our fellow workers as employees; they were associates rather. All were addressed by their given names regardless of the importance of the part they played, and to them all the secretary was "Ches" and I was "Paul."

No one could by the widest stretch of the imagination say that Ches and I were chums in the usual acceptance of the word. When we met in the office, I saluted him with "Good morning, Ches," and he answered: "Good morning, Paul." But we seldom went to lunch together. Often I would have hailed the opportunity to spend an hour with Ches at noon time talking over the happenings of the day but that was not to be. Ches took a light lunch in his office and continued his work without material break of thought.

Ches had his idiosyncrasies and I had mine. Some things were natural to Ches, others were natural to me, but something more important than mere chumminess was growing up steadily throughout the years; that was a genuine affection born of respect for each other.

Something of the same character developed in the minds of new international presidents and directors of the movement. They missed the effusive welcome which they had expected but found something far better. New officers approached their tasks with apprehension. Could they make good? They were well experienced in Rotary in their home cities and districts but service as president or membership on the board caused nervous apprehension. All of this generally disappeared as the days went by. Sitting beside the president at the board meeting was a man, the international secretary, always ready to be called upon but never obtrusive; a gentle touch here and there, a skillful mention of some guiding principle. All doubts in their minds soon disappeared. When the meeting closed all felt that with the compendium of information ever at hand in their secretary no failure could come to the administration.

When in 1942 it became rumored that Ches was going to retire as Secretary of Rotary International the air was full of conjectures as to what would happen to Rotary arid what would happen to Ches. Phil Lovejoy, a native of Portland, Maine, a graduate of the University of Michigan, and a past president of the Botary Club of Hamtramck, Michigan, who had been first assistant secretary for the preceding twelve years was everyone's choice for the office of General Secretary and was duly elected. The trains did not run off the track as feared by many. Phil knew his job. He is ably supported by Lester B. Struthers as assistant general secretary. Les has been in the organization for over twenty years.

In his retirement Clies returned to activities in the Chicago Rotary Club, first in committee work, then as director and vice-president, and last year as president of our Club of 770 members. Like good wine he improves with age.

Headquarters is not only a marvel of efficiency, but it is also Exhibit A of Rotary doctrines. The staff, consisting of 150 earnest and happy workers, are gathered together in the large room of the board of directors for a meeting Monday after lunch, approximately once a month. Smiling General Secretary Phil Lovejoy presides. A song in which all join brings a sense of relaxation. Then Secretary Phil runs rapidly over the affairs of the preceding month and of the month to come, interjecting a bit of humor at appropriate places. The result is that each member is educated in the purposes of the movement; that every associate realizes the importance of his or her particular part in the world-wide organization.

To facilitate the extension of Rotary throughout the world, and give service to established clubs, a secretariat was early established in London, England; some time later secretariats at Zurich, Switzerland, and Bombay, India, were established under the supervision of the General Secretary. These offices have rendered fine service to the clubs in Britain and Ireland, Europe, and Asia.

In 1911 we authorized Secretary Perry to edit and manage a magazine for Rotary which has grown into a most important factor in the advancement of the movement and in the maintenance of solidarity among Rotarians. It also is welcomed by libraries and schools, and frequently quoted by other publications. For several years "The Rotarian" has been under the able editorship and management of Leland Case, and its Spanish language edition is well handled by Manuel Hinojosa.

The extraordinary progress of the Rotary movement has, most naturally, necessitated the expenditure of large sums of money but it has all been provided by comparatively small annual dues contributed by the members of all Rotary clubs who have wanted to make it possible for men of other cities and other countries to learn about Rotary and be given the opportunity to share in its blessings, and in turn contribute to its further development. The financial policy has always been conservative and sound; go as far as you can with what you have at the moment. There is a substantial surplus in the treasury available for all emergencies which can be foreseen by prudent and farsighted men.

Though the annual budget of today may seem large, it is nothing compared to what it would necessarily be were it not for the fact that thousands of Rotarians, not alone in America, but throughout the world, are giving their best efforts in the interest of the movement without any compensation other than the satisfaction they find in advancing a movement which to them holds great hope for a better world, a neighborly world.

Once during the early years of the movement, Secretary Perry came to my office in Chicago to introduce the two splendid Canadian Rotarians who had been commissioned by Rotary International to establish Rotary Clubs in Australia and New Zealand. They expressed a desire to meet me whom they termed the "Founder of Rotary." I gratefully accepted the honor but suggested that perhaps my part had been overemphasized. Ches answered for my callers and said: "I suppose that Rotarians come to see you, Paul, in about the same spirit they go to visit the source of a great river."

I have often thought of those words; they constituted a high compliment paid in the form of a beautiful anology. I accepted the compliment as it was intended, but does the great river have its flow from any one particular spring alone? No, the great river is the sum total of the contributions of hundreds, perhaps thousands of little brooks and rivulets, which come tumbling down hillsides and mountains, singing as they go, eager to cast themselves into the channel of the great river.

Well, that is like the growth of Rotary. It has become great because of the self-sacrificing contributions of thousands of Rotarians of many lands.

There followed me in the presidency of the Association a long line of devoted and able Rotarians who have given the movement great life, poise and character. They have come not only from the United States but from Canada, Mexico, England, France, Brazil and Peru. Each president has had associated with him other able men who as members of the board of directors, committeemen, and district governors, have come from scores of countries. Each year's administration has made and is continuing to make its important contribution to the extension and development of my early conception of a world wide fellowship of business and professional men united in the ideal of service. Club officers and members have made many helpful contributions. Yes, indeed, the great river of Rotary is the sum total of the contributions of many.

Rotary International has been extremely fortunate in many ways but especially in its selection of presidents. It would require many volumes to record their contributions to the movement, to estimate their loyalty, their devotion, the sacrificial spirit they have so splendidly manifested, and to adequately describe the leadership they have given to the movement.

Arthur Frederic Sheldon of Chicago made us see more clearly our service responsibilities in business and we have him to thank for the slogan: "He profits most who serves best," which was accepted as indicating, strange as it may seem, that it was conceivable than an effort to give the other fellow the best of it might result in getting the best of it yourself. Minneapolis Rotarians gave us our other and more terse slogan: "Service Above Self."

Rotarians of Seattle gave us our platform of principles and a group of Sioux City Rotarians contributed the code of ethics. These and many other contributions helped to give our movement its sense of direction.

In 1915 Guy Gundaker of Philadelphia, prepared a booklet entitled "A Talking Knowledge of Rotary," to express Rotary as it was then understood, rather than to set up new ideals and standards. It was a most helpful contribution to the cause.

The Rotary Club of Birmingham, Alabama, made valuable contributions to the interpretating of Rotary to the public as the Rotary Clubs of Britain and Ireland also have done.

Even before there was a second club, realizing the importance of community service, I persuaded the Chicago Rotary Club to initiate the establishment of public comfort stations in the city of Chicago, inviting the city administration and every civic organization in the city to join our club in the undertaking. It is possible that some more attractive objective might have been chosen for our first venture, but it would be difficult to have found one which would have stirred up more agitation. Two formidable forces rose up against us; one was the Chicago Association of Brewers which contended that every one of Chicago's six thousand saloons offered public comfort conveniences for men. The other opponent was the Association of Department Stores on State Street which contended that free accommodations in their stores were available to women. The proponents of the measure nevertheless persisted that men ought not to have to buy a glass of beer nor women have to buy merchandise to make use of toilet facilities. The stations were established.

Purchase The Road to Rotary from R. I.

To Top
To top

Copyright 2003 Rotary eClub NY1 * Updated in 2004 & 2005
Design & Maintenance of this site by TechnoTouch e-Strategists

To Top
To top


Site Map

Site Map Links FAQ's Membership Rotary D7150 Rotary About Us Make Up Sigh-In Home