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Dedication for the Paul Harris Memorial Walkway

On the 10th Anniversary of the Rotary Global History Fellowship

Written and presented by member: Donna M. Thiernau, Lay Ecclesial Minister

October 12, 2010       Mt. Hope Cemetery, Chicago, Illinois

PHM dedication
RGHF members Dick McKay, Rick Thiernau, Brian Andersen, Robb Knuepfer, Geri Appel, Toni Byrnes, Irv Kaplan, Ted Gifford, Jack Selway, Frank Devlyn, and Matts Ingemanson pay tribute to Paul Harris


invocationBefore we begin the commemoration of this walkway, I’d like to take a few minutes to remember those Rotarians who spent endless hours working on the landscaping, promoting and selling paver bricks, and raising funds to keep this memorial site a tribute that Rotarians in District 6450 and around the world, can be proud of…


In 1985-86 District 645 Governor Cedric A. Pope conceived the idea of creating a memorial for Harris and Schiele and secured the land between and around their two gravesites. Rotary International President Charles Keller dedicated the 8-foot granite memorial monument on December 2, 1987.


Long after Cedric Pope, his wife Pauline, and the Blue Island Club decided to dedicate their time maintaining the gravesite of Paul Harris, the founder of Rotary, I helped PDG Rich Ingalls and the Paul Harris Memorial Committee computerize a flyer for the purpose of raising funds to maintain and develop the land now known as the Paul Harris Memorial and Commemorative Walkway. Committee member PDG Irv Kaplan made sure that Rotarians around the world were aware of the Memorial. Member PDG Rick Thiernau asked each 6450 club to put a line item in their budget for the gravesite. And Toni Burns’ endless marketing at each District Conference – calling us over to the Blue Island booth to contribute to the Paul Harris Memorial. The Blue Island Club never gave up this cause.


And I will always remember the meticulous measures Pauline Pope took to make sure every dollar collected was spent wisely. And even though committee treasurer, Vince Yager didn’t like the idea of the bricks, he was dedicated to the cause and continued to keep detailed records of every contribution. Today, we continue to see the dedication of Toni Burns, Irv Kaplan, the Paul Harris Memorial Committee, the members of The Rotary Club of Blue Island and the deceased Cedric and Pauline Pope. They are the driving force that keeps the Paul Harris Memorial Gravesite a distinguished site in Rotary history.


As we stand at this memorial, we think back to February 23, 1905 – the date Paul Harris formed the first Rotary Club; back to the days when Silvester Schiele was the first president of this first club of Rotary, recognized today as Rotary One in Chicago IL. And we clearly know the history of these men and their Rotary accomplishments, thanks to the Rotary Global History Fellowship (RGHF).  So today, as part of the Rotary Global History Fellowship’s 10th Anniversary Celebration, we dedicate the Paul Harris Memorial’s Commemorative Walk.


Brothers and sisters, as we arrive at this memorial walkway, we should remind ourselves of the reason for our resolve to be present here today. This place is a monument to the devotion of the people of God. These Rotarians, remembered here in the markings of stone and brick, were dedicated to the true meaning of Rotary. Rotarians come to this place to be encouraged and strengthened, and become more determined to devote themselves to the works of service and charity. We gather to remember and to celebrate the lives of those Rotarians who have enriched our Rotary Community. Let us, the living, remember those who have helped light our way and who made our history. As they now enjoy eternal light and life in heaven, we must try to emulate their example of faith, hope and love.


Lord God, whose blessings reach to the ends of the earth, bless this walkway and all those who made it possible. Confirm us in our common faith that we may walk together with you and one another. Send your blessings upon Rotary, that what began in the Spirit, in fellowship and service, be brought to completion by Your power.


As we the living, leave here today, continuing to recognize the importance of Rotary and the preservation of Rotary Global History, unite us in the Rotary motto, Service Above Self, now and for ever. Amen. 

Posted 14 October 2010 by Jack Selway
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