The following is reprinted from the Grand Lodge of Georgia's newly designed website. This is the first I've heard that the most recent past grand master of Georgia, M.W. Bro. Eli Stafford, passed away in December.
Eli Austin Stafford, 73, Most Worshipful Grand Master of Masons in Georgia 2006-2007
Eli Austin Stafford assumed the exalted title and station of Most Worshipful Grand Master of Masons in Georgia — the highest honor that can be bestowed upon a member of our Craft — on October 24, 2006 at the annual communication of the Grand Lodge of Georgia, F.&A.M. held in Macon, Georgia.
Most Worshipful Brother Stafford, born in Claxton, Ga., was a graduate of Collins High School, Class of 1951. He served in the Georgia Army National Guard, 48th Division, 560th Combat Engineering Battalion, Company "C".
Before starting a very prosperous and productive career with Union Camp Co., Brother Stafford worked for Central Georgia Gas Company and for the Life Insurance Company of Georgia. He retired after 35 years of dedicated service with Union Camp. He served as President and Business Agent of Union Local No. 1391 of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers and Chairman of the Joint Maintenance Unions of Union Camp & Chairman of the Insurance Committee of the Joint Maintenance Unions. He retired from active employment in June 1994.
Brother Eli was a member of Alpha United Methodist Church in Bloomingdale, where he served as Lay Leader, Chairman of the Administrative Board, Sunday School teacher, as well as a host of other committees. At the time of his death Brother Eli was serving as Secretary of the District United Methodist Men's Association. He was a qualified Lay Speaker in the District, served as Chairman of the Savannah District United Methodist Lay Speakers and attended the South Georgia Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church for many years as a Delegate and served on the Conference Evangelism Committee.
Most Worshipful Brother Stafford has a most impressive and extensive Masonic record of service to the Craft. He was raised to the Sublime Degree of Master Mason April 23, 1965 in Richard T. Turner Lodge No. 116, in Pooler, Ga.; served as Worshipful Master of that Lodge in 1971, and subsequently served as Director of Work for 19 years as well as serving as Secretary for 26 years. He is a member of Clyo Lodge No. 280 and served for many years as Chaplain of that Lodge. As a charter member of Coastal Daylight Lodge No.750, Brother Eli served as Chaplain every year, except one, since it was chartered. He was elected and served as Worshipful Master of the First District Masonic Convention, appointed District Deputy to the Grand Master and served as District Director of Masonic Education for the 1st Masonic District.
Companion Stafford served York Rite and Scottish Rite Masonry as well. Exalted in Georgia Chapter No.3, Royal Arch Masons in 1988, he served as High Priest for both that Chapter and the York Rite District before being elected to the exalted station of Most Excellent Grand High Priest in 2003-2004. He was Greeted in Georgia Council No. 2 Royal and Select Masters. That same year. He served as Illustrious Master and was elected (Hon.) Most Illustrious Grand Master of the Grand Council, Royal and Select Masters of Georgia. In 1988 he was Knighted a member of Palestine Commandery No.7, Knights Templar; served as Eminent Commander and received the Knight Crusader of the Cross. Sir Knight Stafford was a recipient of the Knight Commander of the Temple Award and served on the Knight Templar's education committee.
He was a member of the Scottish Rite Consistory — Valley of Savannah and was awarded the 33rd Degree Inspector General Honorary.
Noble Eli was a member of Alee Shrine in Savannah, served as President of the Knights of Mecca, and served as President of both West Chatham and Effingham Shrine Clubs. He was a member of Savannah Court No. 134, Royal Order of Jesters, Past Patron of Richard T. Turner Chapter No. 332, Order of the Eastern Star. Brother Eli was awarded the Grand Cross of Colors at the Grand Assembly of Rainbow for Girls.
Most Worshipful Brother Eli Austin Stafford is survived by his wife of 54 years, Lily Mae Brown Stafford of Bloomingdale, Georgia; four sons, Kenneth J. Stafford, Mitchell E. Stafford, Eason Andrew Stafford, and Eric B. Stafford; two brothers, M. W. Stafford, Jr., and Justin Stafford; sister, Jean Decker, eight grandchildren, two great grandchildren, and a number of nieces and nephews.
The Brethren of Richard T. Turner Lodge No. 116, F.& A.M. conducted Masonic graveside services, Wednesday, December 26, 2007.
As we mourn the departure of a Brother beloved, from the circle of our Fraternity, may we trust that he hath entered into a higher Brotherhood, to engage in nobler duties and in heavenly work, to find rest from earthly labor, and refreshment from earthly care. May thy peace abide within us, to keep us from all evil! Make us grateful for present benefits, and crown us with immortal life and honor, — and to thy name shall be all the glory forever. Amen.
— From the Grand Lodge of Georgia website
Image: The late Eli Stafford, Past Grand Master of Masons in Georgia, and his wife
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