PAUL HARRIS--FIRST BUT NOT FIRST

Was Paul Harris the first president of a Rotary club? No. Was Paul Harris the first president of Rotary International? Yes.

There is an easy explanation to this apparent contradiction. Although Paul Harris was the founder and organizer of the first Rotary club in Chicago in 1905, the man selected to be the first president was one of the other founding members, Silvester Schiele. By the year 1910 there were 16 Rotary clubs, which linked up as an organization called the National Association of Rotary Clubs. A couple of years later the name was changed to International Association of Rotary Clubs as Rotary was organized in Winnipeg, Canada, and then in England, Ireland and Scotland. In 1922 the name was shortened to Rotary International. When the first organization of Rotary clubs was created in 1910, Paul Harris was selected as the first president. He served in this position for two years from 1910 until 1912. thus, the founder of the Rotary idea, who declined to be president of the first club, became the first president of the worldwide organization, Rotary International.