Arthur H. Charles was born in Portland, Maine on July 1, 1911 to Florence and John Charles. He was educated in the Portland public schools, graduating from Portland High School. He took a post-graduate year at Hebron Academy before enrolling at Boston University. He left Boston University after his second year because of health problems and completed his college education through classes at Portland College, now University of Southern Maine. His father was a grocer, and President of the Maine Grocers Association. He worked for his father as executive secretary of the association, eventually making it his career. In the 1930s he began lobbying in Augusta for the Grocers Association. He worked with Ed Muskie in the Office of Price Stabilization during World War II, because he had a relationship with the grocers of Maine. He served in the Maine House in the mid-1950s, and served one term in the Maine Senate in the late 1950s. He retired from the grocery industry after more than fifty years. His wife, Helen Charles, worked with him in the grocery business.
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O'Brien, Stuart, "Charles, Arthur H. oral history interview" (1998). Edmund S. Muskie Oral History Collection. 79.