The mother of Father's Day was raised by a single dad

Sonora Smart Dodd was one of six kids her father raised after her mother died.

— -- The national day honoring dads was started by a woman who was raised by a widower. Sonora Smart Dodd’s father, William Smart, raised her and five brothers after their mother died during childbirth.

The YMCA of Spokane, Washington, and the Ministerial Alliance endorsed Dodd’s idea of Father’s Day and held a celebration in 1910. Dodd wanted the celebration to be held on June 5, her father’s birthday, but planning difficulties pushed the first Father’s Day celebration to Sunday, June 19, 1910.

As Dodd’s idea gained momentum across the country, two National Father’s Day committees were formed, one in Virginia in 1921 and one in New York City in 1936.

Sonora Smart Dodd is recognized as the founder of father’s day. Some reports claimed a Father’s Day celebration was held in West Virginia in 1908, the same year Mother’s Day was founded, but Spokesman-Review reported Dodd was the most “influential promoter of Father’s Day.”

She married Spokane businessman John Bruce Dodd and had one son, John “Jack” Bruce Dodd, Jr. In 1937, she became a part owner of the Ball & Dodd Funeral Home in Spokane where she worked as the vice president for 30 years.

In 1948, a bronze memorial plaque was installed at the Spokane YMCA honoring Dodd. The Dodd family home earned a slot on the National Register of Historic Places after in 2010 on the centennial of Spokane’s first Father’s Day celebration. Although it is a private residence, it can be viewed as part of Historic Spokane’s “East Central Heritage” tour.

Dodd’s grave at Greenwood Cemetery in Spokane reads:

Sonora Smart Dodd
Founder of Father's Day