Manuel Munoz Comes to San Francisco

Soon after Manuel Munoz became a member of the Chicago Rotary Club, Paul Harris asked a favor of him. Knowing the Munoz, as a salesman for the Sperry and Hutchinson Company, was being sent to San Francisco to develop more business, Harris, as the founder of the Chicago Rotary Club, asked him to spread the word about Rotary out West. Harris could not have been happier over the outcome of his request.”

At the hotel Munoz chose, he happened to meet a young attorney named Homer Wood. Wood thought the idea of an organization where it would be comfortable for men to discuss business and avoid conflict was a very exciting idea.

Wood already belonged to Union League and San Francisco Golf & Country Clubs. He was just considering joining the Commonwealth Club, a luncheon group, mostly concerned with civic matters. Organizing Rotary was more to his liking.

Wood did better than anyone could have expected. Only one club existed. Rotary Club of Chicago since 1905. Homer Wood organized four Rotary clubs in less than two years. San Francisco #2, Oakland #3, Seattle #4 and Los Angeles #5. Little did he know that his energy and success almost caused the end of Paul Harris’ vision! (see related story)

Wood graduated from Stanford University in 1899 and began working as a newspaper man in the old “Gold country” of California. At nineteen, it was once claimed that he was the youngest full-fledged editor and publisher in the United States.

He left the mining camps in 1905 and became a clerk of the District Court of Appeal in Sacramento, the California capital. He passed the bar, came to San Francisco to practice law, but later returned to the newspaper business as his lifelong career.

(From “The First Rotarian” by James Walsh, 1979. Pages 93-94 The Wheel Begins to Turn)
“He (Paul Harris) always wanted New York to be the second club in Rotary but by 1909, it was the sixth. In 1908 and early in 1909, four cities in the ‘golden West’ had seen the value of Rotary, and in quick success had established the second, third, fourth and fifth clubs making 1908 a year which stilled some of the vociferous opposition to Rotary extension.

The honour of becoming the second club fell to San Francisco, and again it was one of the Chicago club’s members who was instrumental in bringing it into existence.

During the spring of 1908 Harris, still slitting from one residence to another, was staying at the Hyde Park Hotel in Chicago. It was at about this time he met an old university roommate, Manuel Munoz, an American of Spanish descent. To escape from the hot summer months in Chicago, the two men rented rooms in Elmhurst, a suburban town just outside the city, but in the autumn they moved back into Chicago and rented a suite of rooms in the Del Prado Hotel. By now, Harris had interested Munoz in Rotary and submitted his friend’s name for membership. Munoz was duly admitted, a step that proved significant for the Movement.

Munoz was a salesman for the Sperry and Hutchinson group, and from time to time traveled to the West Coast on business. On one such trip he was in San Francisco, and had occasion to do business with a man named Homer Wood, who became interested in what Munoz told him about the Rotary Club of Chicago. (continued)