In Memoriam: Foundation Council Member Tony Mendez


The Foundation recently lost a good friend and a champion of focused ultrasound in Tony Mendez, retired CIA officer, author, and award-winning artist. Mendez passed away due to complications from Parkinson’s disease.

For 25 years, Tony worked undercover for the CIA, participating in some of the most important operations of the Cold War. As Chief of Disguise, he was responsible for changing the identity of thousands of clandestine operatives. In 1980, he was awarded the Intelligence Star for Valor for engineering and conducting the rescue of six U.S. diplomats from Iran during the hostage crisis. This mission inspired the Oscar winning 2012 film ARGO, in which Ben Affleck starred as Tony. In 2017, the proceeds of a special screening of the movie were donated to the Foundation.

Tony retired in 1990, having also earned the CIA’s Intelligence Medal of Merit and two Certificates of Distinction. His books include The Master of Disguise, Spy Dust (co-authored with his wife and fellow Foundation Council member Jonna), and ARGO (2012).

He and Jonna joined the Foundation’s Council in February 2014. Later that year, they spoke publicly for the first time about his Parkinson’s diagnosis during a special session at the Foundation’s Symposium.

“Tony was a true advocate for the work of the Foundation to make focused ultrasound therapy available to those who are suffering,” said Foundation Chairman Neal F. Kassell, MD. “His personal battle with one of the diseases for which we are working hard to find new treatments is a reminder that the Foundation’s work is far from complete. He will be greatly missed.”

Obituaries have appeared in numerous media outlets including The New York Times, The Washington Post, and NPR.