In 1898, a young teen named Sonora Louise Smart lost her mother after childbirth to Sonora’s fifth sibling. The chore of raising six children was left to husband and Civil War veteran William Jackson Smart on a rural farm in eastern Washington State. He lived long enough to see Father’s Day as the beloved holiday that we celebrate today.
In 1909, following a Sunday morning sermon about Mother’s Day, she questioned why fathers were not honored. She mad it her mission to establish a Father’s Day, wishing to celebrate it on her father’s birthday on June 5. On June 19, 1910, Father’s Day was observed locally in Spokane, Washington. Her efforts were, at times, met with jokes and mocking. It wasn’t until a noted political leader William Jennings Bryan began to support her cause.
In 1916, United States President Woodrow Wilson approved the bill to establish an official Father’s Day. In 1924, a formal proclamation issued by President Calvin Coolidge designated the third Sunday in June as Father’s Day and then in 1966, President Lyndon Johnson signed it as a presidential proclamation. It wasn’t until 1972, Father’s Day was created as a permeant national occasion by President Richard Nixon.
In 1978 at the age of 96, Sonora Louise Smart Dodd died seeing her dream become a reality — honoring her father, her husband and other men like them.