Monday, February 3, 2014

Dr. Baron

January 28, 2014

Dr. Henry Baron

Optometrist, patent holder fitted LBJ, Sinatra, Carson

- — NILES, Ohio – Dr. Henry Baron of Niles was a man of strong character whose life came to full circle on Sunday, Jan. 26, 2014. He was 89.

Born Jan. 26, 1925, in Sharon, to his parents, Joseph and Helen Zobroski Baron, Dr. Baron attended Sharon High School and after graduating went on to study at Youngstown State University, majoring in pre-med. After finishing his bachelor’s degree, he was accepted into a graduate program at Chicago College of Optometry, where he obtained his doctorate degree.

While living in Chicago during the Big Band Swing era, he played saxophone at various nightclubs, including the famous Pump Room.

After finishing graduate school, he returned to Sharon and opened his own private practice on Oakland Avenue.

During his long career, he was president of the Farrell Wolves. In 1964, he had the honor of fitting President Lyndon B. Johnson with bifocal contacts, which he wore during a televised speech to the nation on Oct. 18. During his career, he also fitted such celebrities as Frank Sinatra and Johnny Carson of The Tonight Show.

Dr. Baron also was an avid sports enthusiast and a big fan of the Cleveland Browns and the local Niles Red Dragons. He often fitted the football players with lenses when they were coached by Tony Mason.

In 1973, Dr. Baron received his first soft contact lens patent issued from the U.S. patent office out of New York. During that time, he traveled throughout Europe teaching fellow optometrists the proper techniques and procedures for effective contact lens placement.

On July 28, 1981, he married Julia Lamonge of Niles. During their long marriage, they traveled frequently around the U.S. and abroad. They resided in Niles where they enjoyed raising their two sons.

Surviving Dr. Baron are his wife, Julia, Niles; his sons, Alan Baron and his wife Brenda, New Mexico; and Eric Stambaugh, Tucson, Ariz.; and his daughters, Jacquie Eubanks, Florida; and Renee Zamary, Sharon. He also leaves behind seven grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren, along with his niece, Adrianna Lamonge Mayes and her husband Adam, Warren, Ohio, whom he held dear to his heart.

He will be greatly missed and never forgotten by his family and friends.

Memorial contributions may be made to a charity of the donor’s choice.


Dr. Henry, 89, Niles, Ohio, formerly of Sharon.

Service: Mass of Christian burial at 10 a.m. Thursday (1-30-14) in Our Lady of Mount Carmel Parish, Niles, with the Rev. John Michael Lavelle as celebrant. Family and friends can view this obituary, sign the guestbook and send e-mail condolences at

Arrangements by JOSEPH ROSSI AND SONS FUNERAL HOME, 457 Robbins Ave., Niles.

My first eye appointment I followed my dad up the wide stairs into this large yellow brick house. We sat in a white windowless waiting room.  A man in a white lab coat opened a door and asked us into his exam room. I watched as Dad first had his eyes examined. A large black machine on an arm with dials and two eye holes with lenses covered my dad's face,  as he sat in a hydraulic leather chair. The room darkened and Dad made the choices of which view was better.
Next, was my turn. The chair air lifted me and that machine engulfed my face. I, too, had to make decisions on which numbers or letters looked clearer on the wall. I sweated a little, but then disappointment covered me when I didn't need glasses. Everyone wore glasses in my family and I wanted them, as well. The next year, during the same process, I needed them for far away. In fourth grade, I chose a mild cat frame, brown in color. My mother couldn't believe I picked an old fashioned frame.
Soon, I had to wear glasses all the time. I went through two wire frame pairs till I was fourteen and my parents allowed me to venture into the world of contacts. Dr. Baron, as you see in the article, patented soft contacts. He persuaded us into this new form, claiming it could improve my eyesight by forming my cornea. I never wore hard contacts, that were so easily lost, as my sisters did. The soft ones overreached the iris, so no color. My eyes couldn't be bluer, but I didn't care. I felt free without those frames.
A January day, I walked from the hospital to Dr. Baron's yellow brick house office with my friend Karen and my then boyfriend, who met me at the hospital after my Candy Striper shift. I think his mother worked at the hospital.She brought him to work to meet me. My dad drove to get us at Dr. Baron's after I got my brand new contacts. Because that is the way freshman rolled in those days.
Dr. Baron glanced at my boyfriend, like what is he doing here, but he didn't say anything. The two young teenagers sat in the waiting room, while I learned the wonders of putting soft lenses in my eyes. Pictures of Dr. Baron and Frank Sinatra, and another with Johnny Carson smiled at me from the walls. I don't remember seeing President Johnson' photo, but I'm sure he had one somewhere. Dr. Baron's calm voice instructed me on the care. In those early days, many steps kept contacts in shape. I also learned how to make my own saline solution to economize.
Wearing time had to build up with the contacts, but I never tired of them. One year, though in a drought, on a Fourth of July, I forgot my wetting solution when we helped Ray move to Indiana, PA. My eyes became dry and tired, as well as the rest of me. I whined. How did my husband put up with me in those early days? About a month later, the heavens opened with rain and oh, my eyes were so relieved. On a morning walk in August of 1988 in Buhl Farm Park, I raised my face to welcome the downpour.
I hadn't seen Dr. Baron for years. I believe he retired soon after we moved back from Connecticut, probably early 1990's. Or my insurance wouldn't cover his services. I tried other places, but none satisfied like seeing the cool Dr. Baron in his yellow brick house office, with the huge glass ornate door entrance on a shady Sharon street.

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