History Moment By William “Doc” Halliday

The World’s First Service Club

When I first moved to Marshall, Texas, I was asked if I wanted to become involved in the community. I said that I did, and almost in a blink of an eye I was involved in the community. The first step was to join the Rotary Club of Marshall. All Rotary clubs are service clubs. A service club or a service organization is a voluntary non-profit organization where members meet to perform charitable or humanitarian acts either by direct hands-on efforts or by raising money for other organizations. A service club is primarily defined by its service mission, but may have other benefits for its members such as social occasions and networking. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves.
Paul Percy Harris was born in Racine, Wisconsin in April of 1868. When he was just three years old, he was moved to Vermont to live with his paternal grandparents. Paul’s parents were unable to provide for him financially. He did briefly attend the famous Black River Academy in Ludlow, but was expelled. He was also in trouble in his secondary school in Rutland where he was known as a student who was fond of playing pranks. Paul entered the University of Vermont in 1886, but was expelled. In the autumn of 1887 he entered Princeton University and completed one year of studies. He did not return in 1888 due to the death of his grandfather.

Mr. Harris moved to Des Moines, Iowa and went to work for a law firm there as an apprentice. He studied at the University of Iowa and was granted a bachelor of Laws degree in 1891. With a new law degree in his pocket, he decided to work odd jobs for the next five years. In 1896 Mr. Harris settled in Chicago and began to practice law in that city’s business district. Paul had apparently satisfied his desire…

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