From the earliest days of Rotary, members have referred to each other on a first-name basis. Since personal acquaintanceship and friendship are the cornerstones of Rotary, it was natural that clubs adopted the practice of setting aside formal titles in conversations among members.
Individuals who normally would be addressed as Doctor, Professor, Mister, the Honorable or Sir are regularly called Joe, Bill, Mary, Karen or Charley by other Rotarians. The characteristic Rotary club name badge fosters the first-name custom.
In a few areas, such as Europe, club members use a more formal style in addressing fellow members. In other parts of the world, mainly in Asian countries, the practice is to assign each new Rotarian a humorous nickname which relates to some personal characteristic or which is descriptive of the member’s business or profession. A member nicknamed “Oxygen” is the manufacturer of chemical gas products. “Trees” is the nickname for the Rotarian in the lumber business, “Building” is the contractor, “Paper” is the stationery or office supply retailer. Other members might carry nicknames like “Muscles,” “Foghorn” or “Smiles” as commentaries on their physical features. The nicknames are frequently a source of good-natured fun and fellowship. But whether a Rotarian is addressed by a given first name or a nickname, the spirit of personal friendship is the initial step that opens doors to all other opportunities for service.