In Honor of Her Father

The tale of Sonora Smart Dodd, the mother of Father’s Day

"I began thinking of my mother who passed away in 1898 while I was yet a child. My thoughts naturally turned to my father who was left with the responsibility of rearing six children." - Sonora Dodd

A stone marker in front of a modest home at 603 S Arthur St commemorates the life of Sonora Smart Dodd, known for her creation of Father’s Day. Born in 1882, in Jenny Lind, Arkansas she was 5 years old when her family migrated to Spokane, Washington. She was the eldest of 6, when her mother died in childbirth, the children were raised by her father. To Sonora, her father was “a real disciplinarian, but he was also kind and loving parent who kept us together and happy.”

In 1899, she married John Bruce Dodd and the two had their only son in 1909. In her personal life, Mrs. Dodd was a painter, sculptor, and an avid member of several women's clubs in Spokane. Professionally, she was a published poet, worked for the Red Cross, and was the founder of the Father’s Day Association. She had a career as a faculty member at the Chicago Institute of Art, and later a founder of the Ball & Dodd funeral home.

Following a Mother’s Day sermon in 1909, Dodd realized what better way to recognize fathers than a holiday. With the help of Dr. Conrad Bluhm, her pastor, she spearheaded a petition that was brought to the Spokane Ministerial Alliance. By 1913, the holiday was celebrated in Canada, Germany, Hawaii, India, Mexico, and Sweden. In 1972, the holiday was officially adopted as a national holiday by Richard Nixon. In 1946 the first monument in Spokane for Father's Day was created. The monument was originally a plaque set into a two-ton granite stone.

Father’s Day was eventually commercialized with advertisements attempting to convince consumers to give fathers gifts on the day. Some feel this has impacted Father’s Day negatively, but the ads did not bother Mrs. Dodd as she saw nothing wrong with fathers receiving gifts. It was just one way to honor fathers, and she held a neutral and positive attitude towards the holiday's commercialization. Dodd states "at least I believe we've changed the sentiment of the country, and associate fathers with something."



930 N Monroe Spokane, WA 99201, North Entrance.