Would you believe that the idea of Father’s Day was introduced by a woman? It’s true! Spurred on by the success of Mother’s Day, many people felt it was only fair to create similar holidays for other family members of influence, and Father’s Day seemed most likely to catch on. While other people in the U.S. promoted the idea of Father’s Day before it was well-established, a female named Sonora Dodd is credited for the holiday as we know it today due to her enthusiasm and persistence in making it a nationwide celebration.
Sonora Smart Dodd celebrated the first Father’s Day at the YMCA in Spokane, Washington on June 19, 1910 in honor of her father and Civil War veteran, William Smart. Smart was a quiet man who was left a widower when his wife died in labor giving birth to their sixth child. Smart went on to raise his six children alone on their small farm in Washington. Grateful for all the hard work and care he showed to her and her siblings, Sonora wanted to pay tribute to her father and others like him with a special day. After hearing about Mother’s Day a year earlier, she recommended a similar holiday celebrating fathers to her pastor. She initially suggested June 5th, her dad’s birthday, but the church did not have adequate time to plan their sermons. Consequently, the celebration was deferred to the third Sunday of June.