Thursday evening, the 23rd of February 1905, four Chicago businessmen, a lawyer (Paul Harris), a mining engineer, a coal dealer and a tailor, met to share friendship and ideas for improving business relationships. Repeated meetings were held at each other’s offices, and as they added to their membership they soon became “Rotarians”. Early on they realized that mutual self-interest was not a satisfactory reason for meeting. Reaching out to improve the lives of the less-fortunate was a more powerful motivation. “Service Above Self” became Rotary’s motto.
From there the concept grew, with clubs established on the west coast in 1909. The first Rotary convention was held in Chicago in 1910. By 1917, the concept of forming a Rotary endowment developed, and a contribution of $26.50 from the Rotary Club of Kansas City was its beginning. The endowment fund had grown to more than $5000 when the 1928 Rotary International Convention renamed it The Rotary Foundation. RI President Arch Klumph stated The Rotary Foundation is not to build monuments of brick or stone. If we work on marble, it will perish; if we work on brass, time will deface it; if we rear temples, they will crumble into ruins. But if we work upon mortal minds, if we imbue them with the full meaning of the Spirit of Rotary as expressed in our objects…..we are engraving on those tablets something that will brighten all eternity. We are Rotarian’s by virtue of membership in our local Rotary Club. The Rotary Club of Tryon is a member of Rotary District 7670, which is one of 534 Districts around the world that make up the membership of Rotary International. Rotary International is funded primarily by dues collected by the Rotary Districts from their member clubs.
Rotary International manages publications, publicity, meetings, conventions and governance of Rotary. The Rotary Foundation is responsible for the worldwide benevolence of Rotarian’s. It operates in cooperation with Rotary International using contributions to its three major funds -“The Annual Programs Fund”, “The Permanent Fund”, and the “The Polio Plus Fund”. Every Rotarian takes pride in the charitable work that Rotary supports in the local community, and extreme personal price in the Rotary Foundation.