David Farnham Emery was born on September 1, 1948 in Rockland, Maine. His father was a bookkeeper, accountant, and golfer (he also played baseball for the University of Pennsylvania), and his mother was a nurse. Both parents served in the military during World War II, his father as a staff sergeant and his mother as an officer. He grew up in a Republican family and was an only child. He attended Worcester Polytechnic Institute in Worcester, Massachusetts from 1967- 1970. He was elected to the Maine legislature immediately after graduation, during the Vietnam War. In 1974 he was elected a U.S. Congressman when Nixon was in office. He also served as deputy director of the U.S. Arms Control Agency.
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L'Hommedieu, Andrea, "Emery, Dave oral history interview" (2000). Edmund S. Muskie Oral History Collection. 129.