Spokane couple preserving home where Father’s Day began




Posted on June 13, 2014 at 7:26 PM

Updated Sunday, Jun 15 at 8:28 PM

SPOKANE, Wash. – A Spokane couple is dedicating their lives to preserving the historic home once owned by Father’s Day founder Sonora Smart Dodd.

Sara and John Dodd built a house in the Perry District in 1913.

Dodd was the daughter of an American Civil War veteran raising his children on his own.

After hearing a Mother's Day Sermon at a Spokane church, Sonora thought fathers deserved celebrations too. She began a lifelong pursuit to get Father’s Day to be a national holiday.

“It took from 1910 until 1972 for it to be declared a perpetual holiday by President Richard Nixon,” said Jerry Numbers who owns the Dodd home now.

Dodd was honored at the 1974 World Expo. When she dies a few years later, so did the recognition of her achievements.

“The history had really been kind of lost. There were mixed stories, some of them with inaccuracies, so we did a lot of research,” said Numbers.

The Numbers began their research in 2003. They slowly pieced together the life of the woman behind Father’s Day.

With the help of Sonora's grand-daughter, the couple found her paintings, hand-crafed dolls, pottery and her poetry.

“Roses were the commemorative flower for Father's Day," said Beverlee Numbers of one of Dodd's paintings. "Red if your father was living, white if your father was deceased."

A Ripley’s Believe It or Not ad from 1933 might prove Dodd was ahead of her time. It says, "Believe it or not, Father's Day was created by a woman."

“As a woman, I would love to ask her, 'What lit a fire in your body that made you never give up? Because she didn't’t,” said Beverlee.

The couple doesn't offer formal tours of the house, but often shows the home to anyone who knocks at the door.

The Numbers met 35 living Dodd relatives at the 100th Anniversary of Father's Day they hosted at their home in Spokane in 2010.

The couple said they have been "honorarily adopted" by the Dodd family.