James “Jim” Courtney Schoenthaler was born in Skowhegan, Maine, on August 11, 1927. His father, Frank C. Schoenthaler, died when James was very young. His mother, Delia Schoenthaler, ran a clothing store where Jane (Gray) Muskie was working when she met Ed Muskie. Jim and his brother William attended prep school in Massachusetts. After prep school, he spent a semester at Boston College before transferring to Bowdoin, graduating with a double degree in French and Economics. He started working in the Maine Office of Economic Opportunity under Governor John H. Reed., then he worked in a variety of state offices mainly concerned with labor and employment.
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Richard, Mike, "Schoenthaler, Jim oral history interview" (1999). Edmund S. Muskie Oral History Collection. 354.