Carole Ann Parmelee was born in Columbus, Ohio on February 4, 1944. Her mother, Marie (Jackman) Clemens, was a homemaker, and her father, Vernon, was a factory worker in a steel mill. Both of her parents were Democratic supporters and her father was an organizer in the steel union. After high school she attended Otterbein College and first became politically active in the local Kennedy campaign. In 1970 she founded and became president of the Northeast Columbus Democratic Women’s Club and worked on John Gillian’s campaign staff and eventually worked as a staff member until 1974 when Gilligan lost re-election. She met her second husband, Ken, and the two began working for Governor Dan Walker of Illinois. She later moved to Washington, D.C. and worked for Howard Metzenbaum for a short time, then joined Senator Muskie’s staff, first as a legislative assistant to Jim Case and then as a personal assistant to Muskie doing scheduling and advance work. She continued as his personal assistant when he left public office and joined the law firm of Chadbourne & Parke, during the time he served on the Nestle Infant Formula Audit Commission (NIFAC). At the time of this interview, Parmelee was working with Leon Billings at the Muskie Foundation, an organization created to further Edmund S. Muskie's lifelong commitment to public service, civic responsibility, and the protection of the natural and human environment.
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Nicoll, Don, "Parmelee, Carole oral history interview" (2003). Edmund S. Muskie Oral History Collection. 318.