Father’s Day most influential promoter was Mrs. John Bruce Dodd of Spokane, Washington. The idea of a Father’s Day celebration came to her first while listening to a sermon on Mother’s Day in 1909. Her own father, William Jackson Smart, had accomplished the amazing task of raising six children – Mrs. Dodd and her five brothers – after his wife died at an early age. The sacrifices of her father on their eastern Washington farm called to mind the unsung feats of fathers everywhere.
With the support of her minister, Dr. Rasmus, she composed a letter to the Reverend Conrad Bluhm, president of the Spokane Ministerial Association, in which she set forth her proposal for Father’s Day. The association approved of the idea, and the Spokane YMCA agreed to publicize it. Thus Spokane, in 1910, was the first city to honor fathers with a special day.
The day chosen by Mrs. Dodd was June 5, her father’s birthday. However, because this did not allow sufficient time for the ministers to prepare sermons, the first Spokane Father’s Day actually took place on the nineteenth – the third Sunday in June. The mayor of Spokane issued a Father’s Day Proclamation and the governor, M.E. Hay, set the date for an observance throughout the state.