On a train ride home from an advertising convention in Baltimore in the summer of 1913, four young businessmen made plans for an Atlanta Rotary Club. Ivan Allen, Howard Geldert, Evelyn Harris and Henry Grady, all close friends, had traveled together to the convention where they learned about a growing association of civic clubs that they believed could help their businesses grow.
With guidance from the National Rotary Club, the group sent letters to 40 business leaders, each in a different industry or profession. Ultimately, 38 of the 40 invitees joined the newly minted Rotary Club of Atlanta.
Henry Grady and Ivan Allen, Sr. were two of the four Atlanta friends who founded of the Rotary Club of Atlanta.
The collective effort among those first members to help each other grow their businesses turned into something much more when Ivan Allen and Albert “Bert” Adams attended the 1913 Rotary International in Buffalo, N.Y. It was at that momentous meeting that the National Rotary Club redirected its mission from building its members’ businesses to helping the community. And where Rotarians worldwide, including Allen and Adams, adopted the now-famous motto: “Service Above Self.”
Today the Rotary Club of Atlanta has nearly 500 members, drawn from the top leadership of Atlanta’s business, civic and not-for-profit communities, united around the ideal of “Service Above Self.”