Joel Harold Springer III, a teacher with a master’s degree from San Francisco State University, a master Mason who rose to the top of the order nationally and in San Francisco and San Andreas, and a gay man who came out in his 50s and married his husband in 2013, died of natural causes on the first day of 2017 at his home in San Andreas. He was 68.
Springer was an active Mason and served four times as a past master of Phoenix Lodge No. 144 in San Francisco. He was past master of San Andreas Lodge No. 78 had recently been installed as master for 2017.
As president of the Philialethes Society, the oldest and largest Masonic research society in the United States, Springer maintained his studies of Freemasonry. He worked as assistant grand secretary at the Masonic Grand Lodge of California.
“He has been very much a resource to all the brethren in the lodge in San Andreas,” fellow Mason Chuck Farr said on Monday. “He was known far and wide as a Mason’s Mason.”
Farr, who is twice a past master of the San Andreas lodge, said Springer was extremely knowledgeable about the Masonic order and had friends throughout California.
“We are going to miss him greatly,” said Farr.
Springer was born in San Francisco on Dec. 11, 1948. He was a teacher at George Washington High School in San Francisco and at Calaveras High School in San Andreas. At the time of his death, he was a substitute teacher at schools in Calaveras and Amador counties.
Springer was Jewish and was member of Congregation Shar’ar Zahav in San Francisco before moving to San Andreas in 2006.
“Joel spent much of his life searching for more of himself, eventually coming out as a gay man in his 50s,” said his husband, John “Rob” Barnaby. Springer and Barnaby were married in a secular ceremony at the Pickle Patch restaurant in 2013.
A brief Masonic service is scheduled for Jan. 19 at the Calaveras Masonic Lodge, 5 West St. Charles Street, in San Andreas. A celebration of life is planned in the spring.
Memorial donation may be made to Congregation Shar’ar Zahav, 209 Dolores Street, San Francisco, California 94103, or to the California Masonic Foundation, 1111 California Street, San Francisco, California 94108, attention to Denise Avila.