Janet Dennis was born to Clemenza Rowlandson Sullivan and William Aloysius Sullivan on September 5, 1945 in Pittsburg, Pennsylvania. Her father was a postal inspector for the U.S. Post Office and he was raised in a Democratic family. She was raised in a Republican family in Waterville, Maine, where her mother was a schoolteacher in parochial schools. She was the youngest of five children. She attended Thomas College for secretarial services. After that, she was Senator Muskie’s secretary in Washington for one year beginning in May of 1965. She worked as a Senate Office manager for Senator Muskie in Waterville and Augusta. Janet also did senatorial work for the Senate Public Works Committee in the Subcommittee on Air and Water Pollution under Leon Billings until May of 1970. She married Richard Hollis Dennis, Jr.
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L'Hommedieu, Andrea, "Dennis, Janet oral history interview" (1999). Edmund S. Muskie Oral History Collection. 117.