A Little History ...

From Phil Albin
Rockport Rotary Club Past President, 2001

In February of 1905, four men gathered in a Chicago mining engineer's office for fellowship and what we would now call "business networking". Paul Harris, an attorney, was the instigator of that meeting.

Paul was born in 1868 and graduated from law school in 1891. After law school and while exploring the world Paul supported himself at a variety of jobs. He was a newspaper reporter in San Francisco, a schoolteacher and theatrical actor in Los Angeles, a cowboy in Colorado, a hotel clerk in Florida, a stockman on a cattle ship to England and a salesman for a granite stone company in Europe and the United States.

Paul settled in Chicago in 1896 and began his practice as an Attorney. He prospered and did well in his vocation. However, the stiff formal business life of Chicago in those days did not sit well with the thirty-two year old Paul. He longed for the fellowship and tolerance he found in small towns as a youth and the open spaces of adventure he experienced while traveling the world.

On that February evening in 1905 he presented his idea that businessmen and professionals should get together periodically for fellowship and to network with their circle of business and professional acquaintances.

This meeting, which was held in room 711 of the Unity Building in downtown Chicago, is now regarded as the first Rotary club meeting.

From this meeting came the idea for a men's club which would meet weekly and whose membership would be limited to one representative from each vocation.
The next 16 years brought a rapid expansion of Rotary Club activities. In 1908 the second Rotary Club was formed in San Francisco, CA. In 1910 the first Rotary Club Convention was convened in Chicago and the members boasted of having 16 Rotary Clubs. Also in that year the first international club was formed in Winnipeg, Canada In 1911 Rotary totaled 31 Clubs. In 1914 Rotary added its 100th Club. In 1921 Rotary had 1000 Clubs and changed its name to Rotary International. Today, Rotary has over 32,000 clubs with 1.2 million members in 200 countries around the world.

Rotary is indeed the preeminent service club of our time.

After World War II and in honor of Rotary's deceased founder Paul Harris, many new clubs were formed. Rockport was one of those clubs. In 1948 Gene Albin, my father, solicited a group of notable Rockport citizens and with the help of the Rotary Club of Refugio, Texas chartered the Rotary Club of Rockport, Texas.
Twenty-three members made up the first founder's club meeting and the club has boasted as many as 86 members in past years. Today we number thirty- five members and are looking for an additional few good men and women.

For many years now our Rotary Club has fostered the idea of Service Above Self in the Rockport community.

We all have the right to be proud of our Rotary heritage. The great experiment is ours to celebrate.

Thank you,
Phil Albin
Rockport Rotary Club Past President, 2001