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About Us

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Welcome to The Montgomery Rotary Club

Our History

Brief Overview and History of the Montgomery Rotary Club

I. Paul P. Harris, the original founder of Rotary, was born on April 19, 1868, in Racine, Wisconsin. He graduated from The University of Iowa Law School in 1891 and spent the next five years seeing the world, and in coming to know his fellow man, before settling down to practice law in Chicago.


In his early years, his varied experiences broadened his vision and were of material assistance in the extension of Rotary. His law clients were business friends, not social friends, but this experience brought him to wonder why he couldn’t make social friends out of some of his business friends. He then decided to use this idea to organize a club that would bring together a group of representative business and professional men in friendship and fellowship.


Reflecting on the condition of life and business, by 1905, he had formulated a definite philosophy of business relations. In talking it over with 3 of his law clients (a coal merchant, a mining engineer and a merchant tailor) they decided to organize the club that Harris had been planning since 1900.


The club's first meeting was on February 23, 1905. Harris named the new club “Rotary” because the members met in rotation at their various places of business. Club membership grew rapidly and Harris set as his goal to extend Rotary to other cities because he was convinced that the Rotary Club could be developed into an important service movement.


The second Rotary Club was founded in San Francisco in 1908. By 1910, there were 16 clubs and it was decided that these clubs should be united into an organization that would extend to other cities. “The National Association of Rotary Clubs” was chartered in August 1910.


In 1912, clubs were formed in Canada and Great Britain. The name was changed to “International Association of Rotary Clubs” and in 1922 it became “Rotary International”. Paul Harris died in 1947.

II. The Birmingham Rotary Club was the first Rotary Club charted in Alabama on December 1, 1912. On October 17, 1913, about 6 members of the Birmingham Rotary club came to meet with several prominent Montgomery businessmen to discuss the foundation of a Montgomery Rotary Club.



The first four Rotarians.
From left: Gustavus Loehr, Silvester Schiele, Hiram E. Shorey, Paul P. Harris.

first four Rotarians.jpeg

Paul P. Harris

On Wednesday, October 22, 1913, the Montgomery Rotary Cub was then formally charted with 26 members present and enrolled as charter members. The first President was Thomas L. Hackett, who served during the term 1913-1914. The Montgomery Rotary Club became the second Rotary Club to be charted in Alabama and is the 86th club formed by Rotary International.


III. Since that time, 96 Rotarians have served as President (through 2008) and the club has been blessed with strong civic leaders in the Montgomery area. Some examples are: J. Haygood Paterson (Paterson Field named after him); Stanhope Elmore (Coca Cola Bottling Executive); Carl Bear (Bear Lumber Co.); Fred Cramton (Cramton Bowl named after him).


Club meetings were held at the former Gay Teague Hotel on Commerce Street on Wednesdays. Meetings are now held on Mondays at The RSA Activity Center on Dexter Avenue.


The Rotary Club raised funds to help charitable needs for many years in the Montgomery area. It then embarked on a large project to construct and equip a Boy Scouts Camp on Lake Jordan. This was a huge project for the club, but it was quickly completed. The club then assumed financial operational support for the Camp named “Camp Rotary” for many years. Later, the club decided to pursue other major charitable needs and it deeded the Camp to the Montgomery YMCA in 1961.


The major project of the Montgomery Rotary Club is the Rotary Charity Ball. This was based on a careful review of the project during a visit to the Jacksonville, Florida, Rotary Club by Gene Heilpern (Montgomery Rotary Club Past President) to see the project. After the visit, the project was submitted to the Montgomery Rotary Club and was adopted in 1961 and continues today. The project has raised in excess of $2 million for charitable capital fund projects.


The club has a very large member of Paul Harris Fellows, several in the multiple categories. There have been more than 13 District Governors from the club who have been Governor of District 6880.


The real strength of the Montgomery Rotary Club is the service its members render to the community through leadership roles in every civic, religious and social service organizations in the city. With every member committed to the Rotary ideal of “Service Above Self”, the Montgomery Rotary Club will continue to play a vital role in the betterment of the City of Montgomery in the future.


Today there are nearly 33,000 Clubs in more than 200 countries and geographical areas, with more than 1.2 million members.


By: Charles T. Higgins, Past President, 1986-87

Montgomery Rotary Club

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Join The Montgomery Rotary Club

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We meet every Monday 12 PM

RSA Activity Center
201 Dexter Avenue, Montgomery AL 36104

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