North America

March 3, 1937, Orlando, Florida, USA

The Harris’s were frequent visitors to Florida and there is (Pictured above) a black and white photograph of Paul Harris and a little boy planting a tree. Two men stand nearby watching.

The original picture in the Orlando Club files is captioned: “Paul Harris, Founder of Rotary International, frequently spent the winter months at Clermont, Florida and visited the Orlando club several times.

Here, on March 3, 1937, he is shown planting an oak tree at Lake Eola off Osceola. Assisting him is John T. Branham, Sr. President of Orlando 1936-37, and a little namesake “Paul Harris” of Apopka.

1938, Aberdeen, Mississippi

The Aberdeen Rotary Club is perhaps unique among those located so distant from Chicago, where Rotary International started.

RI Founder Paul P. Harris visited the club in February 1938, was the featured speaker, then planted a magnolia tree on the city’s beautiful West Commerce Street boulevard.

Mr. Harris returned to Aberdeen on the day in 1940 when a marker was placed at the tree and dedicated.

Paul Harris in White Sulphur Springs, 1939

It was the 1939 International Assembly. The club’s original meeting place was torn down in the early 80’s and a new library erected. There was some miscommunication with the contractor, rather than move the tree it was destroyed.

The president of the club when Paul Harris presented the tree was Ken Gillespie. In the late 80’s his grandson was the President and replanted a tree in the town’s Memorial park.

Used with permission of RC of White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia USA, Chris Hanna, President 2001-2002

Paul Harris, in Cleveland, 1939

Paul Harris planted a friendship tree during the 1939 convention at Cleveland, Ohio, USA

1993 article from the Post-Report

Word in the White Sulphur Springs newspaper tells the whole story. 

2002 members of RC of White Sulphur Springs

Rotary Club of White Sulphur Springs remembers our founder and friendships continue to grow.

Today’s members are proud to provide RotaryHistory with proof that Paul Harris’ “Friendship Trees” live on.

Charlotte, North Carolina, 1939

Harris planting a tree in Charlotte, North Carolina. (From the history of RC of Charlotte) Twenty-two RI presidents have visited the club including Paul Harris who in April, 1939, planted a tree from the soil of Illinois on the grounds of the Mint Museum of Art. (In 1959, a pruning from the English walnut – which is still very much alive – was made into three gavels: one for the Rotary Club of Chicago (the first club), one for the RI president and one for our club.

Charlotte, North Carolina, 1939

Description of tree planting in Charlotte

Charlotte, North Carolina 1940

Tree planted by Paul Harris in 1939 in Charlotte, North Carolina.

The photo of the tree and plaque was taken by George M. Frey, in June of 1940. Permission granted by The Rotary Club of Charlotte and 2001 President Jim Woodward

Visits the Palm Springs Club

Prior to the planting in Long Beach, Harris presented the charter to Rotary Club of Palm Springs.

Featured in the June issue of The Rotarian.

Long Beach, California March 5, 1941

“Long Beach Rotary Club was singularly honored last week by the presence of the Founder of Rotary International, Paul P. Harris.

Paul made a special trip from Palm Springs to be present at our meeting. Immediately after the meeting, a tree planting ceremony was held at Bixby Park, at which time a Magnolia tree was planted by Paul.

This tree is the first one that he has planted in California soil, although he has planted many trees in Europe and Asia on several of his goodwill trips to Rotary Clubs of other lands, as well as those he has planted in cities through the United States.

Later a plaque was placed near the tree, commemorating the occasion and dedicating it to Rotary and friendship!” Long Beach Rotarygram

Cathedral City, California March 1941

Paul Harris planting a tree in Cathedral City, California for the Women’s Club of Cathedral City.

It is located on the corner of East Palm Canyon Drive and Cathedral Canyon Drive.

Rotary Club of Cathedral City, founded some 16 years later, placed a plaque there also commemorating Paul Harris.

Cathedral City in 2002

The Rotary Club has kept the tree in its location dispite development and plans to feature a photo of it on their club banner.

Lakeland, Florida Circa 1942

Paul Harris planting a tree in Lakeland, Florida as PDG Ed R. Bentley, Mayor E. E. Kelly, and Rotary Club of Lakeland president Echo Wigham look on. (circa 1942)