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Life cut short honored

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

Mourners fill Orange church to pay respects to teenage crash victim.
The Orange County Register | June 4, 2005

By Erica Perez

ORANGE – About 1,400 mourners packed St. Norbert Catholic Church on Friday to remember 16-year-old Jonathan Schulte as a talented athlete and devoted friend who was like a brother to many of his classmates at Servite High School in Anaheim.

Schulte died May 26 along with his girlfriend, Gillian “Jill” Sabet, 17, of San Clemente, when their SUV rolled over on the San Joaquin Hills (73) Toll Road near Newport Coast Drive in Irvine. Four other students were injured in the accident on their way to a school dance.

“It’s too hard to put in words,” said Servite student Tyler Mullen, 17, one of Schulte’s best friends. “He was too awesome.”

In his eulogy, Schulte’s brother, Jerome, recalled the tight bond between Jonathan and his mother, Shirley, who died of cancer three years ago.

“Her death left a void in his life,” Jerome Schulte said. “He had a chip on his shoulder no one could pacify.”

But that began to change when Schulte became involved in youth ministry at San Antonio de Padua del Canon Catholic Church in Anaheim Hills, and met Sabet.

“She was the rock of my brother’s life,” Schulte said. “He would tell me how much he knew she was the one, and I would tell him how young he was and how much more life he had to live. … Their love proved eternal, for one could not live without the other.”

The crowd swelled beyond the church’s 800-person capacity with students from Servite and JSerra highs, St. Norbert’s and San Antonio Youth Ministry, as well as colleagues of Jonathan’s father, Thomas Schulte, an Orange County Superior Court commissioner. The mourners spilled into the sacristy and an outdoor patio.

More than 200 students from Servite, an all-boys Catholic high school, crowded the pews and lined the center aisle. Some wore varsity football jackets; others wore slacks and shirts with a black tie emblazoned with the school’s crest. The school was closed Friday to allow students to attend the funeral.

Schulte’s friends and teammates from volleyball and football shared memories of going to his house and talking in his spa, making runs to Jack In The Box, where Schulte was known to order four hash browns and two breakfast burritos all at once, and dressing up in lime green, bright blue and hot pink to go to the Sadie Hawkins dance at JSerra High.

Servite volleyball mom Carol Skaggs, 47, recalled Schulte’s powerful serves, great outside hits and vibrant personality.

At one of the team’s last tournaments, Skaggs yelled to Schulte from the crowd: “Great job! Do it again!”

“Jonathan turned around and said, ‘Mrs. Skaggs, I’m always great,’ ” Skaggs said with a smile.

“He missed his mom a lot. A lot of us volleyball moms, we always nagged at him. But he was a good kid.”

For St. Norbert parishioner Tim Buckley, whose daughters went to elementary school with Schulte and now attend Rosary High School, the crash has crept into his subconscious and affected him as a parent.

Just days after the accident, Buckley was teaching his younger daughter, Shelby, how to drive.

“She veered into the left lane,” Buckley said. “And I grabbed the wheel. It was the first time after the crash. And Shelby just looked at me.”