June 17: The World’s Nine Most Influential Fathers

Another special celebration is fast approaching, and this time, we’re shining the spotlight on fathers around the globe.

Anyone with a good dad (or father figure) knows that a father’s love, trust, and support can bring a positive change in a child’s life. Nine of these devoted fathers have managed to make a notable mark in the world’s history– though some of them you may not have even heard of!

Read on and remember their names– here are nine good dads who brought change to the world:

William Jackson Smart

William was a twice-married and twice-widowed Civil War veteran. He is a father of 14 children, a single dad who inspired one of his children to dedicate her life to the creation of Father’s Day– yes, the same Father’s Day we’re about to celebrate, in honor of her devoted and selfless dad.

In 1910, Sonora Smart Dodd submitted a petition to the Spokane Ministerial Alliance to recognize the devotion of all fathers on June 5, which was also William’s birthday. While the local clergy was sold with the idea of a special Father’s Day service, he couldn’t arrange it on the preferred date, so they both settled for June 19, the third Sunday of June. The petition progressed to an official proclamation by the governor of Washington, and Sonora would then spend the next 60 years pushing for Father’s Day to be officially recognized as a national holiday.

Eddie Koiki Mabo

Edward Koiki Mabo was an Indigenous Australian man from the Torres Strait Islands known for playing an important role in campaigning for Indigenous land rights. The landmark decision of the High Court of Australia overturned the legal doctrine of “Terra Nullius” (“nobody’s land”) that characterized Australian law concerning land and title and officially recognized the rights of Aboriginal Australians to own and use the land on which their families had lived for millennia. Indeed, the ten-year battle was a remarkable saga, and the notable land rights advocate made a positive change to Australian history.

Amasa Coleman Lee

Amasa Coleman Lee was an American newspaper editor, politician, and lawyer. His daughter, Harper Lee, who wrote the Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, To Kill A Mockingbird, was inspired to use its lead character, Atticus Finch, as a fictionalized version of her father. Like Atticus, Amasa was a successful small-town Alabama attorney and state legislator. He stood up to racism in the Jim Crow South, believing that people are basically good, capable of improving, and as eager as the next person for a better future.

John Holter

John W. Holter was a toolmaker working for the Yale and Town Lock Company in Stamford, Connecticut. He had a son, Casey, who was suffering from hydrocephalus, or cerebrospinal fluid. As there was no known, effective treatment during that time, Casey was kept alive with a twice-a-day procedure where a needle was inserted into the soft spot on his head, and a syringe pulled out the excess liquid circulating his brain. Despite not having a medical degree, John invented the “Holter’s Brain Drain,” a slit valve in polyvinyl chloride tubing that worked much like the nipple on a baby bottle. When the brain fluid pressure became dangerously high, the rubber would stretch, and the valve would open so that the fluid could get through. The prototype eventually progressed and was turned into a silicon shunt made available to save countless lives. Holter received an honorary doctorate for his work and became the first non-physician member of the American Association of Neurological Surgeons.

Chiune “Sempo” Sugihara

Chiune Sugihara was a vice-consul for the Japanese Empire in Kaunas, Lithuania. During the Second World War, he helped thousands of Jews flee Europe by issuing transit visas to them so they could travel through Japanese territory, risking his job and the lives of his family. In 1985, the State of Israel honored Sugihara as one of the Righteous Among the Nations for his actions. He is the only Japanese national to have received this honor. The year 2020 was “The Year of Chiune Sugihara” in Lithuania. It has been estimated as many as 100,000 people alive today are the descendants of the recipients of Sugihara visas.

Joseph Friedman

Do you know that flex-straw you’ve been using since you were just a wee little kid? Yeah, Joseph Friedman is the mastermind behind that smart invention, initially made because of his love for his daughter Judith.

In 1936, Joseph Friedman took his preschooler, Judith, to a soda fountain shop in San Francisco and bought her a milkshake. Little Judith found it hard to drink from her straw. The top of it was just out of her reach, but when she bent her straw to bring it closer to her mouth, the resulting crimp in the straw stopped the flow of the milkshake. That was when Joseph thought of a way to make it easier for her to enjoy her treat. The genius idea, which he first tried in the confines of his workshop eventually flourished, through his hard work, determination, and research, and the rest is history!

Friedrich Kohner

Friedrich Kohner was an Austrian-born novelist and screenwriter, both in Germany and the U.S.. He is best known for the “Gidget” novels, which were later adapted to a series of movies, two television series, three telemovies, and a feature-length animated film. Many do not know that his most famous work, the “Gidget” series, was inspired by his daughter’s surfing stories, which he turned into a readable fiction people have grown to love.


Known as the “Father of Europe,” Charlemagne was also an actual father. One of his (possibly illegitimate) children was Pepin the Hunchback, named so because of his spinal deformity. Pepin was favored by Charlemagne over his younger brothers as was appropriate in royal lineages. But when he chose a younger (legitimate) son as his successor, Pepin became involved in killing Charlemagne, his wife, and his legitimate children. Despite the plot becoming exposed, Charlemagne showed some fatherly mercy. Instead of executing his son together with the other conspirators, he banished Pepin to a monastery, where he lived out the rest of his days. Talk about unconditional love!

Amilcare Anguissola

During the Renaissance, most aristocratic dads limited their daughters’ education to little more than music and needlework, two occupations meant to attract a man who would bring wealth and status to the family. But the Italian nobleman, Amilcare Anguissola, who had six daughters and one son, had a different plan in mind– he gave all his children excellent Renaissance educations! In fact, when Amilcare recognized that his oldest child, Sofonisba, had an extraordinary talent for painting, he did more than just pay for her to study painting with a renowned artist– he used his influence to provide his daughter with the help and encouragement of Michelangelo, the greatest Italian master around! Indeed, Sofonisba’s fame paved the way for other women artists. Yes, all thanks to her doting father, Amilcare.

Social Media Post:

Anyone with a good dad 👨‍🦳(or father figure) knows that a father’s love❤️, trust, and support can bring a positive change in a child’s👨‍👧 life. So this Father’s Day, let’s shine the spotlight on these 9⃣ of these devoted fathers🧔 who have managed to make a notable mark in the world’s🌍 history– though some of them you may not have even heard of!🧐

📌Click the link to read more➡

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