It was a typical autumn in Chicago in 1946. There was a brisk, cold wind out of the northwest. The Chicago Cubs had just finished another unsuccessful season in the National League. And Leland Case asked Rotary International founder Paul P. Harris to write another article for the Rotarian, the typical, obligatory "It's Anniversary time again, what's in store for Rotary next year?" article.
It was done ahead of the deadline. In point of fact, when Paul Percy Harris lay his head down for the final time on 27 January 1947, the February 1947 issue of The Rotarian not only had been printed, but so also was a mailer, ready to be labeled and sent to the Postal Service. So, when Rotarians around the world began to receive their copies, what they found was an issue with a color picture of Saguaro cactus on the cover, and the obligatory anniversary message from Harris on the inside. Many didn't even know that Paul P. Harris had attended his last meeting, or that the issue of The Rotarian that they had just received contained the last writings of Paul Harris.
Some wouldn't find out of the passing of Harris until they received the following month's issue, a memorial to Harris, and most never knew that they had held a copy of Harris' last writings.
Written by Doug Rudman,
former Rotary Global History Fellowship historian
Rotary's Two Score and Two
"It was unselfish men who made the movement what it is,"
says the Founder in this anniversary message.
By Paul P. Harris
Founder and President Emeritus of Rotary International
Glancing back through my anniversary messages of the past, it seemed to me that I had covered every inch of the ground; that I had told everything I knew. Then the thought came to me that I had omitted the question Rotarians most frequently ask me: "When you founded Rotary, did you think that it would come to anything like this?"
My answer to that question is, "No." My thoughts on that day 42 years ago this month when the first Club first met, were far from any such thing. Recall Andrew Carnegie's answer to an adoring lady who asked him if he did not think that his great work was inspirational: "No, madam, I think it was more perspirational than inspirational."
So it was in Rotary. There was no inspired beginning. Young businessmen, mostly from the country, came in response to my call. Unacquainted with city life, we gathered together to help and befriend each other. We had been lonesome and we had found a cure for lonesomeness. We looked forward to meetings as a traveler in a desert looks forward to oases. We banished "Mister" and used first names. Silvester Schiele suggested photographs in our roster and the reading of papers on our respective businesses. Harry Ruggles contributed Club singing.