Rotary Theme and Logo

Theme - Rotary’s official mottoes, Service Above Self and One Profits Most Who Serves Best, trace back to the early days of the organization.
In 1911, He Profits Most Who Serves Best was approved as the Rotary motto at the second convention of the National Association of Rotary Clubs of America, in Portland, Oregon. It was adapted from a speech made by Rotarian Arthur Frederick Sheldon to the first convention, held in Chicago the previous year. Sheldon declared that "only the science of right conduct toward others pays. Business is the science of human services. He profits most who serves his fellows best."

The Portland convention also inspired the motto Service Above Self. During a convention outing on the Columbia River, Ben Collins, president of the Rotary Club of Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA, talked with Seattle Rotarian J.E. Pinkham about the proper way to organize a Rotary club, offering the principle his club had adopted: Service, Not Self. Pinkham invited Paul P. Harris, who also was on the boat trip, to join their conversation. Harris asked Collins to address the convention, and the phrase Service, Not Self was met with great enthusiasm.

At the 1950 RI Convention in Detroit, slightly modified versions of the two slogans were formally approved as the official mot¬toes of Rotary: He Profits Most Who Serves Best and Service Above Self. The 1989 Council on Legislation established Service Above Self as the principal motto of Rotary, because it best conveys the philosophy of unselfish volunteer service.

Logo - Affixed to the coat lapels of men and women in lands around the world is a wheel with six spokes, twenty-four cog ways and a keyway. It identifies the wearer as a Rotarian, one of more than 1.2 million business and professional executives who belong to more than 30,000 Rotary Clubs in more than 160 countries on six continents. The basic design of the emblem, the wheel, dates back to 1905, the year the first Rotary Club was organized in Chicago, Illinois. Shortly after the formation of the Chicago Club, the members submitted recommendations based upon the wheel which they believed would best symbolize the character of the new organization. Designs ranged from simple buggy wheels to elaborate locomotive wheels.

Some incorporated clouds into the design. One even superimposed a ribbon emblazoned with the inscription “Rotary Club”. In 1910, when the National Association of Rotary Clubs was formed, they discovered almost as many designs as there were Clubs. Prior to the 1912 convention in Duluth, Minnesota, the national headquarters invited all Clubs to submit recommendations for an emblem based upon the wheel. Together, they selected a gear wheel in royal blue and gold as Rotary’s official emblem. It survived untouched for only eight years. Engineers quickly recognized that Rotary’s new gear like emblem was mechanically unsound it could do no work because it lacked a keyway by which it could be locked to a shaft.

Following several years of study, the Rotary emblem as we presently know it was adopted in 1923. The gear was no longer an idler, but was now capable of transmitting power to or from a shaft. The wheel had been “turned on”, and it has been rolling ever since…

Back to Top