Gov. Janet Mills comes from an accomplished family. Of five siblings, three are lawyers, one a doctor. Four have held elected office. Their father, Sumner Peter Mills Jr., was U.S. attorney for the state of Maine, and a legislator — as was his father before him. In fact, all four grandparents held public office.
The family from Farmington had influential friends. Among them, Sen. Margaret Chase Smith, who lived in nearby Skowhegan. At the event of each birth, Sen. Smith penned a personal letter to their infant child of her dear friend Kay. Her letter to Janet began with: "Dear Janet, I am delighted that you have arrived."
Janet Mills has definitely arrived.
Before Mills was sworn in as Maine's first female governor on Jan. 2, NEWS CENTER Maine’s Cindy Williams sat down with a few members of the Mills family to get some insight into where our next governor comes from, and what makes her tick.
A few things you may not know about our Gov. Mills:
- She was very shy as a child.
- She was bedridden for about a year with severe scoliosis, and eventually had to have surgery to fuse parts of her spine.
- Her brother David still lives at the family homestead in Farmington, where the family regularly checks in. He suffers from severe and persistent mental illness.
- She attended Colby College. Among her friends, according to sister Dora, was author Doris Kearns Goodwin.
- She left Colby and went to California and France. She majored in French there, and eventually returned stateside.
- She worked for a law firm in Washington, DC. She escaped an abusive relationship there and returned to Maine to attend law school.
- She comes from a bipartisan family. Her brother Peter ran for Governor twice as a Republican. Janet, a Democrats, supported him.
- In 1985, while taking a tennis lesson, she met a widower name Stan Kuklinski, who had five daughters. They married in 1985. The youngest, Lisl, only 4 years old when they got married. Stan died four years ago after suffering a stroke.
Friends say Janet Mills has never touted being the first female anything. Whether it be the first female district attorney for Androscoggin County, or the first female governor for the state of Maine, Mills like to say she won because she is the most qualified for the job, not because of her gender.
Friends and family all agree that she has a great sense of humor and is always the most fun person in the room.