Tragedy begat Father’s Day

Published 10:25 am Wednesday, June 14, 2023

By Jan Penton-Miller
Columnist

With Father’s Day approaching I found that the celebration of fathers only became an official federal holiday in 1972.

Richard Nixon signed the proclamation setting Father’s Day permanently on the third Sunday in June nationwide. It had taken years of hard work from men and women from all parts of the country promoting a special day to honor fathers.

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In 1907 in Monongah, West Virginia, a mining accident killed 361 men, 250 of whom were fathers. This terrible event left more than a thousand boys and girls without a dad. 

Grace Golden Clayton lost her father in this tragedy and thought it only fitting to celebrate their lives. The local Methodist Church held an event honoring their contributions.

In 1909 Sonora Louise Smart Dodd of Spokane continued the effort to honor fathers. Her own dad was a Civil War veteran and had raised Sonora and her 5 siblings as a single parent. She went before the Spokane Ministerial Association and the local Young Men’s Christian Association to gain support. Spokane’s first Father’s Day celebration was held on Sunday, June 19, 1910.

My late-husband, Glen R., was one of the best fathers I have ever known. He was absolutely selfless when it came to his family. I lived with him for over 25 years before I ever saw his tough side. 

An adult mistreated one of our children, and Glen R.’s gentle demeanor disappeared as the guy we loved morphed into the hulk. We were all so surprised, but needless to say we never had any more trouble from the person who will remain nameless.

Glen R. was so gentle and kind, but when one of his children was threatened we saw him step up so hard and fast that we were amazed. He definitely had no problem standing up for his own when he felt the need. I guess that’s one of the reasons our children and I remember him so fondly. He never let any of us down.

My son, Robby, has my eyes, but he models much of his parenting after his dad. His selfless love for his son is evident in everything he does. He works so hard and sacrifices to provide for his family like his dad before him. A good father provides a generational blessing in a home by setting an example for his children. 

Glen R. had an absent father. He never talked about it much, but once when I asked him how he knew how to do so many things he simply said, “I didn’t have anyone to teach me so I taught myself.” This spoke all the words he never said.

I believe he made a conscious effort to be the father that he failed to have as a child. He embraced fatherhood and broke the cycle. This is just one more reason why we still love and appreciate the man he was even after all these years.

Write to Jan Penton-Miller at jpentonauthor@gmail.com