RI Founder Rtn Paul Harris

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  • RI Founder Rtn Paul Harris

PAUL P. HARR ISPaul P. Harris (1868-1947), a lawyer, was the founder of Rotary, the world's rst and foremost international service organisation. Rotary is an organization of business and professional leaders united worldwide who provide humanitarian service, promote high ethical standards, and help build goodwill and peace in the world.

Born in Racine. Wisconsin, U.S.A. on April 19, 1868, Paul was the second of six children to George and Cornelia Harris. At age 3, he moved to Wallingford, Vermont where he grew up in the care of his paternal grandparents. Married to Jean Thomson Harris (1881- 1963), they had no children. He received a LL.B. from the University of Iowa and received an honorary LL.D. from the University of Vermont.

Paul Harris worked as a newspaper reporter, a business teacher, cowboy, and travelled extensively in the U.S.A. and Europe selling marble and granite. In 1896, he went to Chicago to practice law. One evening, after dinner, as Paul and his friend strolled through the neighbourhood, he was introduced to various tradesmen in their stores. This reminded Paul of his New England village and it occurred to him “Why not have a fellowship composed of businessmen from different occupations, without restrictions of politics or religion.

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