DEAR ABBY: My daughter recently asked me if I knew how Father's Day originated. I have been unable to locate any information about it. Abby, do you happen to know how and when Father's Day started? -- IRENE L. IN DENVER
DEAR IRENE: Father's Day was the brainchild of Sonora Louise Smart Dodd (1882-1978), a resident of Spokane, Wash. When Sonora was 16, her mother passed away, leaving Sonora's father, William Jackson Smart, with the responsibility of raising their six children.
After listening to a sermon on Mother's Day in 1910, she mentioned to the speaker that she liked everything he had said about motherhood, but somehow fatherhood seemed something apart. "Do you not think it would be fair and fine to give fathers a place in the sun?" she asked.
The speaker, Dr. Henry Rasmus, agreed. At the next meeting of local ministers at Spokane's YMCA building on June 6, 1910, Mrs. Dodd presented a petition requesting that the third Sunday in June be set aside as a national "Father's Day." It was endorsed by the ministers, and came to the attention of such national figures as William Jennings Bryan and Woodrow Wilson. Both heartily supported it.
In 1914, Congress endorsed Father's Day, and in 1971 a proclamation by President Richard M. Nixon established Father's Day as a national observance.