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Sonora Dodd, the Spokane mother of Father’s Day

Sonora Smart Dodd is the founder of Father's Day.  Photo courtesy of Jerry Numbers (Dan Pelle / The Spokesman-Review)
Sonora Smart Dodd is the founder of Father's Day. Photo courtesy of Jerry Numbers (Dan Pelle / The Spokesman-Review)

On Mother’s Day in 1909, 28-year-old Sonora Smart Dodd sat in a Spokane church, turning a question over in her mind as the preacher spoke in glowing terms of the virtues of motherhood.

After the service, she approached the preacher and posed her question. Why, she wondered, was there no Father’s Day?

“The preacher was eloquent, though he didn’t even mention the word ‘father,’ ” she recalled of the sermon at Central Methodist Church in a later interview.

“I began thinking of my mother, who passed away in 1898 while I was yet a child. My thoughts naturally turned to my father, William J. Smart, who was left with the responsibility of rearing six children,” Dodd, who herself passed away in 1978, is quoted as saying.

Along with Mark Wheeler and George Forbes, Dodd submitted an official petition for the establishment of Father’s Day. It was positively received.

Initially, Dodd wanted the first Father’s Day to be on June 5, her father’s birthday. Clerics that year asked for more time to prepare proper sermons.

On Monday, June 6, 1910, the YMCA convened a meeting with Dodd and the Spokane Ministerial Alliance. The group enthusiastically endorsed the idea of Father’s Day, to begin on June 19, 1910. Full story. Mike Prager/SR




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Cindy Hval
Cindy Hval is a freelance columnist for the Voices neighborhood sections. Her Front Porch column appears twice a month in the Thursday Voice.