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The Mother of Father’s Day: Sonora Smart Dodd (video)

by John Maxwell

Unlike Mother’s Day, it took Father’s Day several decades before it caught on. The woman most cited as the founder of Father’s Day is Sonora Smart Dodd. Inspired by Anna Jarvis’ successful campaign for Mother’s Day, and a desire to honor men like her father, William Jackson Smart, a widower who raised her and her brothers solo, Dodd organized the first Father’s Day in her hometown of Spokane, Wash.

While she was initially successful in raising awareness and enthusiasm for the new holiday, it failed to gain national recognition before she left home to study at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago during the 1920s. Father’s Day also lacked the overwhelming commercial appeal of Mother’s Day as fathers can be a notoriously difficult group to buy gifts for.

But the desire to recognize fathers for the role they play in our lives never waned, and thankfully Dodd lived to see Father’s Day officially became a national holiday in 1972.

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