Ernie Banks' Last Wishes, Estate In Dispute

By Chuck Sudo in News on Feb 17, 2015 3:15PM

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Photo credit: AP Photo/M. Spencer Green, File

A battle over Ernie Banks’ last wishes and estate is forming between the Chicago Cubs Hall of Famer’s wife and family, and a woman who claims to have been “Mr. Cub’s” longtime caregiver and agent. It’s a sad postscript that threatens to sully Banks’ legacy and casts a spotlight on his personal life, which took a back seat to his public persona.

Banks’ sons Joey and Jerry allege the caregiver and agent, Regina Rice, coerced an infirm Banks into changing his will three months before his death so that he left everything in his estate to Rice. “I find it quite interesting that she did not tell anyone that she had an attorney write up a new will,” Joey Banks said in a statement. “At the funeral of my father, I went out of my way to praise Ms. Rice and her son for helping my father. What I did not know at the time is that for at least six months prior to my father’s death, in my opinion, she was using him, manipulating him and controlled him.”

The lawsuit by Banks’ sons came on the heels of a dispute between Rice and Banks’ fourth wife Elizabeth over how Banks’ remains should be handled. Banks once told the Chicago Tribune he wanted his body cremated. (For possible dramatic effect, Banks said his ashes should be scattered at Wrigley Field “with the wind blowing out.”) Elizabeth Banks filed a motion Feb. 2 to prevent Rice from carrying out the cremation and said she would “suffer irreparable damage should Regina's desires to cremate the remains of the decedent be granted.”

Rice countered with documents claiming the Bankses were estranged at the time of his death and that Ernie Banks was in the process of divorcing his wife, claiming “irreconcilable differences” and “extreme and repeated acts of mental cruelty” by Elizabeth Banks.

Meanwhile, no one knows where Banks’ remains are currently interred.

According to (Elizabeth Banks’ attorney Howard) Golden, 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, which handled the logistics surrounding the Jan. 31 funeral service, declined to comment on the dispute, saying only that Banks' remains were no longer at the funeral home.

Regina Rice filed Banks’ amended will in probate court Jan. 29, six days after his death. She said she’ll let her lawyers do the talking moving forward but that she has the best interests of Banks in mind.

“He made me promise to adhere to his wishes and I am determined to do just that,” Rice said in the statement. “I will not participate in any verbal jousting with Ernie’s family or do anything to bring negativity to the legacy of such a dear and honorable and extremely positive man. Ernie would have hated that.”