I cried when I found out that Ernie Banks had passed, but the news developing around the execution of his last wishes makes me sad all over again.
There’s a fight escalating between Banks’ estranged wife, Elizabeth, and a longtime friend, Regina Rice, who is listed in court documents as Banks’ caretaker and the executor of his estate. The former wishes to see her late husband laid to rest in the traditional manner, while the latter wants to honor Banks’ reported wish to be cremated and have his ashes scattered at Wrigley.
According to court documents, Rice was named executor of Banks’ will via a document signed in October of last year. The will, however, contains no mention of Banks’ wishes for his remains, though he is on record as having told a newspaper reporter that he wanted his ashes spread at Wrigley “with the wind blowing out.”
But because those desires weren’t listed in the will itself, the legal battle has ensued.
And that’s just the start. Rice also claims that Banks had intended to file for divorce, citing the ubiquitous irreconcilable differences, including “extreme repeated acts of mental cruelty.” Elizabeth Banks has countered with a dispute of the validity of the aforementioned document, claiming that it was “allegedly signed” by the Cubs great.
Sounds like the kind of thing you’d see on Judge Judy, huh? Well, things go from curious to downright absurd when you consider what the Chicago Tribune has reported on the topic:
According to Goldman (attorney representing Elizabeth Banks), 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.
The worst part of this whole twisted tale is that neither side appears willing to back down anytime soon, which means the courts could take weeks to sort it all out. At the risk of sounding morbid, I feel like a judge just needs to offer up the King Solomon solution and see who takes it.
Ernie Banks was too great a person to have such a pathetic postscript tacked on to his life’s story and I sincerely hope there’s a resolution coming in the near future.