The first year of Hopkinsville Rotary Club history, 1920, was compiled by past President Wallace Henderson, as a part of our club's celebration of the fiftieth anniversary of the founding of Rotary International. Through the years, other Rotarians including George W. Crenshaw, W.R. Wheeler, Tom C. Jones, Tom K. Roney, Joe McCarroll, and Wesley P. Dalton have presented programs on the highlights of Hopkinsville Rotary. Information gathered by these seven, along with the extensive research of the compiler, constitutes this history of the club.
Today's Rotary International was founded on February 23, 1905, in Chicago, Illinois, by Paul P. Harris (1868-1947), a native of Wallingford, Vermont. a young lawyer, Harris called together three other professional men for a meeting in the Unity Building on Dearborn Street in the "Windy City." There Harris proposed his idea to band together a club of business and professional men in an effort to emphasize friendliness and understanding among men.
The group chose the name Rotary for their organization because its members met in rotation at the offices of its members. Charter members of the Chicago Rotary Club were: Harris, Silvester Schiele, a coal dealer; Gustavus E. Loehr, a mining engineer; Hiram E. Shorey, a merchant tailor; Harry Ruggles, a printer; and Will Jenson, a real estate dealer.
Each of the members was engaged in a different business and this basis of membership - one active member from each business or profession - became one of the basic features of Rotary membership. Each member was loaned his classification and this practice continues today. These first Rotarians gave programs on their own area of business and with the introduction of group singing, the general format of today's weekly luncheon or dinner meetings resulted.
When the first Rotary Convention was held in Chicago in August, 1910, membership consisted of sixteen clubs and 1,500 Rotarians. The National Association of Rotary Clubs was organized at this meeting. The following year at Portland, Oregon, Rotary's motto, "Service Above Self--He Profits Most Who Serves Best," was suggested by Arthur F. Sheldon and B. Frank Collins. The third convention at Duluth, Minnesota, officially changed the name to the International Association of Rotary Clubs. Finally, at the Los Angeles Convention in 1922, the name was shortened to Rotary International.
Rotarians have always accepted the thought that for happiness in business and community life, giving service to others is most important and material success may be added. This they call the Rotary "Ideal of Service." Rotary attempts to bring people together and avoids all that separates them.