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Family, friends celebrate life of teen

By June 2, 2005June 4th, 2021No Comments

Orange County Register (Sun Post News) | June 2, 2005

By Rachel Olsen

Some of the last words Ashley Melbourne heard from her best friend Gillian “Jill” Sabet expressed her love for everyone.

This love and light which radiated from Sabet in her short life was the topic of conversation Wednesday at Sabet’s memorial.

Sabet, 17, of San Clemente, died May 26 along with her boyfriend, Jonathan Schulte, 16, of Orange, in a vehicle rollover along the San Joaquin Hills (73) Toll Road.

Melbourne drove the vehicle that rolled that Thursday night and talked about her question as to why God chose to keep her and not Sabet here on this Earth. But Sabet would remain, Melbourne said, if everyone who knew her remembered the light she radiated, keeping her memory in their hearts and minds.

Melbourne spoke along with other family and friends in the eulogy of Sabet’s memorial, which lasted for two hours in the packed cathedral of more than 1,000 people in attendance.

Throughout the entire service speakers continued to stress the light and kindness that radiated from their friend, sister and daughter.
Father Vincent Gilmore, Sa bet’s religion teacher at JSerra High School, compared Sabet to the light of the Gothic cathedrals — which they were learning about in class at the time of her death.
“Next time I go into a Gothic cathedral and see a window with its light, I will think of Jill because she was a temple of light,” Gilmore said at Wednesday’s memorial.

In a letter written by Sabet’s mother, Donna Sabet expressed her gratitude to all the friends who expressed condolences throughout the last week. Donna Sabet said she knew her daughter had many wonderful friends, who expressed their love for Jill Sabet at Wednesday’s memorial.
As Jill Sabet’s elementary school teacher for five years, Esther Borges talked about Jill Sabet as her princess, and said she did not know who learned more from who.
Borges said through the years she remained close to Sabet and promised her she would attend her high school and college graduations.

“(And) today we celebrate your graduation as an angel. … I know you are the brightest … and happiest there,” Borges said.

Donna Sabet said they knew their daughter wasn’t perfect, but those imperfections were minor.

“She wasn’t perfect, but she was perfect to us,” Donna Sabet said Tuesday.

Most of the things her daughter did wrong were enduring, Donna Sabet said, like talking too much.

Jill Sabet was a great communicator. She conversed with anyone and everyone — from her own age to adults, Donna Sabet said.

In fact, she said, Jill Sabet got a cell phone violation in school the day before she died. She was famous for her cell phone violations at JSerra, Donna Sabet said, because she never turned her phone off. Whether she forgot or was afraid she’d miss a text message, her mother didn’t know.

“She could text message faster than anyone,” Donna Sabet said with a laugh.

Most of Jill Sabet’s time was spent tending to her friends, her mother said. “They loved her and she loved them.”

Family and friends played a large role in her life, Donna Sabet said.

And Thursday Jill Sabet continued that family pattern — buried next to her oldest brother, who died of cancer.

“Our children are the light in our home (and) Jill burned so bright. … I don’t know what it will be without her,” Donna Sabet said.

Donna Sabet said her daughter hated to see anything in pain. She wanted to bring home every puppy without a home and brought home many baby birds fallen from nests.

Jill Sabet was also an avid collector of purses. Kay Ostensen, a family friend said, besides the purses family knew she had, 50 more purses were found hiding under Sabet’s bed.

Jill loved her teachers and wanted to become one. She spoke Spanish and English and loved to snowboard, her mother said Tuesday.

As involuntary sobs came from the front of the cathedral, Gilmore related the election skit performed by Jill Sabet right before her sudden death where she enacted the scene of what school would be like without her.

Gilmore said the play showed people crying and then suddenly happy when she emerged from behind a curtain.

If those who knew Jill Sabet remembered her energy, she would always be there, making those friends better people and JSerra a better school, Gilmore said.

“No matter where life takes me, my memory (of Jill) will be strong,” said childhood friend Shelly Quinn.

In lieu of flowers, Sabet’s parents asked that donations be made to the JSerra Scholarship Program to fund a new scholarship to bear her name.

The scholarship will be awarded to the JSerra student who best exemplifies Sabet’s outstanding leadership qualities.

Donations should be mailed or hand-delivered to JSerra High School, 26351 Junipero Serra Rd., San Juan Capistrano, 92675.

Checks should be made payable to JSerra, with a notation that the funds are for the Jill Sabet Scholarship.
Copyright 2005 The Orange County Register