It’s not how they died, but rather how they lived that Jessica Schobert wants her parents remembered.
Her father was Jeff Schobert, the successful, yet unassuming attorney. Mom was Margaret Schobert, known to everyone as Peg, the doting mother, who planned everything — two days ahead.
The Schoberts were known for their generosity throughout Summit County, volunteering their time and money to various charities and organizations. Near and dear to them was Archbishop Hoban High School, where Jessica and her younger sister, Chelsea, graduated.
It was at Hoban and the school’s mock trial team where the Schoberts left their mark.
Jeff Schobert, quite naturally, served as a coach to the scholastic legal team. Peg Schobert, quite naturally, was the den mother, who took care of everything outside the courtroom.
It all began when Jessica Schobert was a Hoban sophomore eight years ago. It ended last April when the Schoberts were slain inside their New Franklin home. An Akron man and a teenaged boy are each charged in the deaths and are awaiting trial.
Awards named for couple
On Friday, at the conclusion of this year’s regional mock trial competition, the Akron Bar Association and Jessica Schobert announced the top two prizes will be forever named in remembrance of Jeff and Peg Schobert.
“A lot’s been said about how they left, but a big part of how they lived was mock trials,” Jessica Schobert said. “My parents were a team in just about everything they did.”
A team of legal beagles from St. Vincent-St. Mary High School took the first-place title named for Jeff Schobert. One of Hoban’s four entries took the Peg Schobert second-place trophy.
Two other squads — one from Hoban, the other from Tuscarawas Central Catholic High School — will advance to the state finals later this year in Columbus.
Legacies live on
The Akron Bar Association sponsors the mock trial contests, which pit high schoolers in competitive courtroom roles that are judged and scored by lawyers. Hoban is a perennial powerhouse, thanks in part to the Schoberts.
“It was such a tragic event, but the legacy of Jeff and Peg is so strong that we felt they should be honored. And I’m so grateful to the Akron Bar Association for agreeing to do this,” said Summit County Judge Alison McCarty, who helps oversee the annual courthouse mock trial competition.
“I really think it’s just such an appropriate honor for Jeff and Peg based on all the years of service that they provided to this program.”
Oldest daughter speaks
After the daylong courtroom battles, Jessica Schobert addressed the high school competitors from 14 mock trial teams, as well as their parents and coaches.
Standing on stage, the 24-year-old master’s student at Capital University maintained her composure while telling the audience a little about her parents and their love of kids and mock trials.
Afterward, as the crowd stood in applause, she hugged McCarty. Only then did she appear to cry.
Jessica recalled the mock trial fever in her family began when she was a sophomore and eagerly volunteered her father’s services to a Hoban mock trial team in need of a coach. The team was hers, of course.
“At first, my father said he was too busy to do it. He insisted he was too busy to do it. And then he wound up getting involved anyway and he went on to be a fantastic coach for seven years. He never ran out of time for the kids.”
Peg Schobert, 59, was just as eager to volunteer. And her maternal instincts served the team well as the “den mother,” her daughter recalled.
“Dad would be the one full of ideas. My mom would figure out the logistics,” Jessica said. “So, he got the kids prepared for the courtroom; she prepared the food, handled the drama, fixed the hair and the wardrobe and made sure everybody got to where they needed to be.”
Conor Morrissey, a Hoban graduate now attending Bowling Green, was one of those mock trial kids. He said Jeff Schobert started as his coach, but remained his mentor until his death.
“It was all about you. It was never about him,” Morrissey said. “I can’t think of any person other than Mr. Schobert who’s had a greater impact on my life, the direction it took, especially in an important time like high school.
“He was just an incredible, positive influence.”
Akron Police Capt. Michael Caprez helped coach the Hoban team alongside Schobert for three seasons. He said the couple were tireless and made sure each team member felt important.
Jeff Schobert, 56, was like a diplomat as a coach, ensuring that everyone had a part in the success of the team, he said.
“Jeff was literally a brilliant man, but humble. And that’s hard. When you know that you know more than anyone in the room, but you don’t let anyone feel that way. That was Jeff,” Caprez said.
“He could have been out there billing billable hours and enriching himself. But he was there, enriching the lives of the children instead.”
Jessica Schobert was pursing a law degree at the time of her parents’ death. She is now studying paralegal work, but is considering returning to law school.
She said her mother and father would have never allowed such an honor to be bestowed upon the family name. That’s one reason, perhaps, why it was done.
“They never wanted recognition,” she said. “So, my dad would say, don’t do that. Stop it. They would just be happy with whatever result the kids got. It was entirely about the kids.”