A man who helped American spies go into hiding with custom-made disguises will speak to the annual Lakeside Foundation Gala Dinner. Robert Barron was hired by the American government to help the CIA, and later found he could take his skills to families around the world.
Barron is a anaplastologist who spent 24 years in charge of disguising CIA agents in the field to make sure their lives would be protected and they wouldn't be found out.
"They depended on the realism of that disguise to do what they needed to do to collect intelligence," Barron told 13 WHAM News before speaking at the Lakeside Foundation dinner. "If the disguise attracted attention, that was bad. They might not make it home. The mask I gave them had to be easily put on or taken off in three seconds, and it had to be believable in close proximity."
From his career as a disguise maker, Barron realized he could use his skills to build new faces for people in need. He decided to build a business helping children who were born with facial defects, or adults suffering from burns or injuries. He created prosthetic noses, ears, and faces. The results were remarkable and earned Barron attention in many countries.
"I met kids who were teased because of the way they were born," Barron said. "They were miserable. They wouldn't smile. Then we'd work with them, and I'd take them up to the mirror. We'd look, and Mom starts crying, and Dad starts crying, the office manager starts crying, and I have sometimes shed a tear, too. It's such a gratifying feeling knowing you can give someone the quality of life back that they were used to before even before their differences."
Barron spent part of Friday afternoon touring the Lakeside facilities and says he's truly proud to be here. "These are wonderful professionals, and I can't wait to share my experiences with them."