Paul Percival Harris, the founder of Rotary was born in Racine, Wisconsin, second of six children to George N. Harris and Cornelia Bryan Harris. A man with varied knowledge and experience, he received Bachelor of Physical Culture and honorary LL D Degree from the University of Vermont and LL B from the University of IOWA.

Paul Harris worked as a newspaper reporter, a business teacher, stock company actor, cowboy and as a salesman for marble and granite concern before finally setting in Chicago in 1896 to practice law.

In July 1910, he married Jean Thomson Harris, a Scottish girl and a co-member in Chicago Prairee Club. One evening Paul went with a professional friends to his suburban home. After dinner, as they strolled through the neighbourhood, Paul’s friend greeted by name various tradesmen at their stores. This reminded Paul of his New England village and it occurred to him why not in Chicago have a fellowship composed of just one man from each of many different occupations, without restrictions as to their politics  and religion, with broad tolerance of each other’s opinion? In such a fellowship could there not be mutual helpfulness?

One 23 February 1905, Paul Harris formed the first club with three young businessmen: Silvester Schiele, a coal merchant; Gustavus Loehr, a mining engineer and Hiram Shorty, a merchant tailor.

Paul Harris was the first President of the National Association of Rotary Clubs ( in 1910 ) and also of the International Association of Rotary Clubs (the name later changed to Rotary International) in the year 1912. Paul was active in Rotary until his death on 27 January 1947.

Today the seed he sowed in 1905 has blossomed into a large tree covering 209 countries and  geographical regions with more than 33,303 clubs having a membership of nearly 1.13 million Rotarians.