Legal battle over the remains of Ernie Banks is underway
In an unexpected and truly sad turn of events, a battle over the remains of Chicago Cubs legend Ernie Banks is currently playing out between his estranged wife, Elizabeth Banks, and a longtime friend of Banks, Regina Rice, who says she intends to honor his wishes to be cremated and have his ashes scattered across Wrigley Field.
Rice, who is also described in court documents as Banks’ caretaker and the executor of his estate, is asserting her rights to execute his wishes following his death on Jan. 23.
Howard Goldman, the attorney representing Elizabeth Banks, confirmed his client’s dispute on Friday, stating she is without recourse and would suffer irreparable damage if Rice’s desires are granted.
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According to court documents obtained by the Associated Press, Rice was appointed the executor of Banks’ will in a document signed on Oct. 17. 2014. However there’s no mention in that document of Banks wanting his ashes scattered at the only home ballpark he knew during his 19-year career. In fact, there’s no indication at all regarding what Banks wanted to have done with his remains, which has left the door open for a battle.
Banks went on public record at least once telling a newspaper reporter that after he died he wanted his ashes spread out over Wrigley Field “with the wind blowing out.” However, without that wish in writing, it will be difficult for Rice to prove those were Banks’ true intentions.
Adding to this awful drama is that those involved are not exactly sure where Banks’ body was taken following his funeral.
According to Goldman, Banks is buried at Graceland Cemetery, just blocks from Wrigley Field. But a person who answered the phone at Graceland but declined to give her name said Banks is not buried there. And Dave Babczak, manager of Donnellan Funeral Home that handled the logistics surrounding the funeral service Jan. 31, declined to comment on the dispute, saying only that Banks’ remains were no longer at the funeral home.
This is just so incredibly sad, and it appears this is just the tip of the iceberg.
According to other documents, Rice claims Banks was attempting to end his marriage to Elizabeth Banks, citing irreconcilable differences, which include extreme and repeated acts of mental cruelty toward him. Meanwhile, the attorney for Elizabeth Banks is disputing the validity of the will, stating that it was “allegedly signed” by Banks.
With neither side showing any intentions of backing down, it will be up to the courts to sift through this and determine which argument has merit. A task that could take weeks to sort out, and a task that, sadly, will only further disrupt the peace Ernie Banks has earned and the respect he deserves.
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Mark Townsend is a writer for Big League Stew on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter! Follow @Townie813