Friends remembered Webber as a man who was dedicated to the law profession. Webber followed his father, Henry P. Webber, to the bench, and the family held the seat for decades.
In 1971, Webber was sworn in at the age of 33, making him the youngest man ever elected a common pleas judge in Lorain County.
Webber’s run as judge ended 17 years later, in 1988, when he was ousted by former Domestic Relations Judge Joseph Zieba, who died March 2, 2012. Webber worked in his private practice as an attorney following his loss.
Lorain County Auditor Craig Snodgrass, who campaigned for Webber in 1994, said he met Webber through his father, who worked as an investigator under Webber. It was then that Snodgrass met the former auditor, Mark Stewart, who suggested that he apply to the auditor’s office.
When Snodgrass took the auditor’s position in January, it was Webber who swore him in.
“It was an honor. I was truly honored by it,” Snodgrass said of Webber, who he called a “true friend.”
“He definitely will be missed,” he said. “He was genuine, and you don’t find too many people like that anymore.”
During Webber’s time on the bench, he focused on juvenile-related issues, founding two juvenile residential facilities, the Hazel Webber Home for Girls and the Stepping Stone Home for Boys. He also founded the Youth Development Center, a program that dealt with school-related issues for children in Lorain County that received a national recognition award.
Webber also developed a child advocacy program, Voices for Children, which is part of the present court system.
County Probate Judge James Walther said he met Webber in 1987 as an attorney, when Webber served on the bench. He remained in contact with him after Webber’s term ended.
“I’ve always found him to be very friendly and easy to get along with,” he said. “It seemed he really had his clients’ best interest at heart.”
Webber graduated from Lorain High School, Kent State University and Case Western Reserve University. He was the past president for the State Association of Juvenile and Family Court Judges, Ohio Bureaus of Support Association and the Lorain County Children Services Board.
Webber’s wife, Peggy, still lives in Lorain, and Webber has two daughters, Barbara and Linda Webber, who both work as attorneys.
Cathleen Catanzarite, who worked as an administrator for both Webber and his father, said the younger Webber was “very civic-minded,” and his interest in the law came from his father. The family continues Webber’s work today, she said.
“He comes from a family that was very civic-minded and well-known,” she said. “(Webber) was a very good judge. … He took his time with cases, and he made sure both sides had an opportunity to present their cases.”
Catanzarite said she worked with Webber for 12 years, handling issues with staff. She remained close with Webber’s family.
She said Webber’s great pride was working as a Domestic Relations judge, but he also enjoyed boating, and he frequently would take his boat to Put-in-Bay.
Snodgrass said Webber participated in the Inter-Lake Yachting Association boat races and he was a member of the Vermilion Boat Club.
“He certainly enjoyed life, and we’re all going to miss him,” Snodgrass said.