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Sonora Louise Smart Dodd

As we gear up to celebrate Father's Day once again, it is time to pause a little and think about the woman, Mrs Sonora Louise Smart Dodd, who made it possible for every father to have a holiday dedicated to them. Go through this enlightening article on Sonora Louise Smart Dodd, the founder of Father's Day, and know about her in brief. If you like this short biography of Sonora Louise Smart Dodd, click here and share it with your friends. Have a wonderful Father's Day!

"Every revolution was first a thought in one man's mind."
~ Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882).

This highly memorable comment by the famous United States writer and leading exponent of transcendentalism comes very close to mind when we recall the origin of Father's Day celebrations. Only, it was an idea born in the mind of one woman whom the world knows as Sonora Louise Smart Dodd (February 18, 1882 – March 22, 1978).

Sonora Louise Smart DoddIt was in 1898 when this American woman lost her mother. The elder Mrs. Dodd died after giving birth to her sixth child and it was left to her husband, Civil War veteran William Jackson Smart, to raise the newborn and his five other children by himself on a rural farm in eastern Washington state. Sonora was only 16 at this time but she did not fail to notice the great sacrifices her widowed father began to make in single-handedly bringing up herself and her siblings.

Sonora grew up extremely devoted to her father. In 1909, when she was 27, Sonora listened to a Sunday sermon about Mother's Day at the Central Methodist Episcopal Church in Spokane, Washington. It was while listening to this beautiful sermon that she wondered why there had not been any corresponding occassion to honour and appreciate dads in the same way as mothers were. Sonora felt the need for a similar occassion for fathers and decided to establish a Father's Day. She wanted her father to know how special he was to her. So she decided to celebrate Father's Day on the birthdate of her father which was the 5th of June.

Sonora soon began her campaign for the official recognition of Father's Day. By then, she was already married to John Bruce Dodd (1870-1945), one of the original founders of Ball & Dodd Funeral Home, and had even become a mother to his son, Jack Dodd, who was born in 1909.

In 1910, Sonora approached the Spokane Ministerial Association and the local Young Men's Christian Association (YMCA) and requested them to pass a resolution in support of Father's Day. Both organizations accepted her proposal but the resolution could not be passed on time and hence, the celebrations were deferred to June 19, the third Sunday of June.

On June 19, 1910, Father's Day was observed locally in Spokane, Washington. Unlike Mother's Day however, Father's Day did not receive an immediate support and the event was mocked by many. The concept became a subject of many jokes, satire and parody. But this negative publicity aroused public curiosity about the occassion. Also, the majority of the print media gave an extended coverage to the unique Father's Day Celebration of Spokane which generated interest for the festival amongst the masses and thus helped to promote the holiday. Gradually, people accepted the fact that the father's role in the life of a child and in the interests of the society needed to be appreciated and honoured. Sonora's campaign got more success when the noted political leader William Jennings Bryan began to support her cause.

In 1913, a bill was introduced with the objective of establishing an official Father's Day. The idea was approved in 1916 by US President Woodrow Wilson. By the time William Jackson Smart breathed his last in 1919, Father's Day had already become quite a popular occassion.

In 1924, a formal proclaimation issued by President Calvin Coolidge designated the third Sunday in June as Father's Day to "establish more intimate relations between fathers and their children and to impress upon fathers the full measure of their obligations.". A National Father's Day Committee was set up in New York City two years later. In 1956, a Joint Resolution of Congress gave recognition to Father's Day. In 1966 President Lyndon Johnson signed a presidential proclamation declaring the 3rd Sunday of June as Father's Day. But it only in 1972 that Father's Day was made a permanent national occassion by President Nixon, to be celebrated on the third Sunday of June. It realised the dream of Sonora Louise Smart Dodd, who passed away just a few years later in 1978 at the ripe age of 96.

Besides her noble job of giving father's their due recognition, Sonora gained appreciation for her artwork and her books on the Native Americans of Spokane for children. She was buried in Greenwood Memorial Terrace, Spokane Washington, USA. To mark her significant contribution towards society, a monument was constructed at YMCA, Spokane. But it is the annual worldwide Father's Day celebrations that serve as the most fitting tribute to this wonderful lady who loved her father so dearly.

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