Paul P. Harris (1868 – 1947)
Lawyer, born in Racine, Wisconsin. He grew up in Vermont, received his law degree in Iowa in 1891, later settling in Chicago to practice law.
As a non-native who felt isolated, he began to bring three Chicago business acquaintances together for informal meetings. In 1905 he started calling the gatherings the “Rotary Club” because they met in rotation at the members’ offices. The idea spread to other cities, and by 1910 the National Association of Rotary Clubs was founded. By 1922, it had become the worldwide organization, Rotary International, whose motto “Service above Self’ embodies the ideals of all service clubs.
Women were admitted to the Rotary for the first time in 1987.
Harris often pointed to the basic values and ideals instilled in him during his boyhood in Wallingford as the cornerstone of the club.
The brick schoolhouse in which he received his early education was constructed by his grandfather in 1818; it is maintained as a memorial to Harris by the Wallingford Rotary.