Rotary was originally founded by attorney Paul P. Harris in Chicago, Illinois on February 23,1905. It was called Rotary because the original members "rotated" using each others place of business for a weekly meeting place. By 1925, there were about 200 clubs. Rotary grew quickly and it wasn't long before it was an international organization. Norristown was one of the early clubs in the region and has a rich history of community leaders. 

Paul Percy Harris
(April 19, 1868–January 27, 1947)
President of Rotary 1910-1911 and 1911-912

Paul Harris was born in Racine, Washington.  At age 3, when his family fell on hard times, they moved to Vermont to live with Harris' paternal grandparents. He attended Princeton University, the University of Vermont, and the University of Iowa.  For the next five years, he worked odd jobs for a newspaper as a salesman and a reporter, on fruit farms, as an actor and cowboy, and on cattle ships that traveled to Europe. Harris would settle in the Beverly neighborhood of Chicago, where he lived until his death in 1947.

He began his law practice in 1896 in Chicago. In 1905, Harris organized the first Rotary Club "in fellowship and friendship" with three clients, Silvester Schele, Gustavus Loehr, and Hiram Shorey . His initial goal was to create a club of professional and business men for friendship and fellowship. Early on, Harris realized that Rotary needed a greater purpose. While Harris served as president of the Chicago Rotary Club in 1907, the club initiated its first public service project, the construction of public toilets in Chicago. This step transformed Rotary into the world's first Service Club.

Harris had great ambitions for the growth of Rotary, and very early in the organization's history new clubs were started, first on the west coast, and then all over the US and in Europe.   (bio credit Wikipedia)

 Sculpture of Paul P. Harris 

in Madrid, Spain in the 

Parque del Oeste

image courtesy Wiki Commons