“For some years we have had ‘Children’s Day’ and ‘Mother’s Day,’” said the North Platte Semi-weekly Tribune on June 10, 1911, “and now thanks to Mrs. John Dodd, of Spokane, who originated the day, we are to have a ‘father’s day,’ and the date is next Sunday. Sermons in father’s honor have been requested the land over and it is suggested that a red rose be worn for living fathers and a white rose for those who have passed away.”
Mrs. Dodd, born Sonora Smart, of Spokane, Washington, had pushed for an annual Father’s Day observance in 1909. Her own father, a Civil War veteran, raised six children after his wife’s death. Mrs. Dodd circulated petitions and within a year, the city of Spokane agreed to honor fathers on the third Sunday in June, close to her father’s birthday. Meanwhile, cities and towns across the country began to celebrate the holiday, often with local variations.
In 1915 a group of Hastings women petitioned Nebraska Governor John H. Morehead to issue an official proclamation setting the fourth Sunday in October as Father’s Day in this state. Desiring that mothers have no “monopoly on remembrances,” a reference to Mother’s Day, the women asked that equal recognition be given to fathers. They also suggested that everyone be asked to wear a white chrysanthemum on the holiday as a token of love and reverence for Nebraska’s fathers.
However, Governor Morehead, who had a reputation as a practical businessman, declared that he did not believe there was any demand for such a holiday and declined to issue the requested proclamation. The Omaha Bee, not in sympathy with the governor’s decision, remarked on October 16, 1915, “Coming from an esteemed loyal member of the tribe [Morehead was the father of several children], this is the cruelest cut of all.”
Despite the lack of an official proclamation, some church services honored fathers on the fourth Sunday of October in 1915. Since 1972 Father’s Day has been observed as a permanent national holiday on the third Sunday in June.