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Ernie Banks' Remains In Dispute

This is truly sad.

Danny Rockett
The late Cubs Hall of Famer Ernie Banks once supposedly told a reporter he wanted his remains cremated and spread over Wrigley Field with the wind blowing out. That claim is repeated in this Tribune article, which also reports on a dispute over Ernie's body between a "longtime friend, caretaker and executor of his estate," and Liz Banks, described in the article as his "estranged wife." Oh. None of that came out during the week of Ernie's tributes and memorial service, but the article says that Ernie had filed for divorce last fall, citing "irreconcilable differences" and that Elizabeth Banks had "committed extreme and repeated acts of mental cruelty upon petitioner (Banks)." Yikes. None of this is good, and here's the summary of the dispute over Ernie's remains:
According to court records, Elizabeth Banks filed a petition to prevent a woman who describes herself in the documents as a longtime friend of Banks, his caretaker and the executor of Banks' estate from having him cremated. The woman, Regina Rice, asserted her rights to dispose of Banks' remains after his death last month at the age of 83, according to documents filed by Elizabeth Banks' attorneys on Feb. 2.

"Petitioner (Elizabeth Banks) is without recourse and shall suffer irreparable damage should Regina's desires to cremate the remains of the decedent be granted," she wrote.

Elizabeth Banks has successfully thus far prevented the body from being cremated, Goldman said.

But it was unclear where exactly the body was taken. 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.

The "Goldman" referred to in the quote above is noted by the Tribune as Howard Goldman, attorney for Elizabeth Banks.

During TV coverage of the procession of limousines that brought Ernie's body for one last pass by Wrigley Field, helicopters showed the procession turning west on Irving Park Road. A number of the limousines were shown turning south on Ashland Avenue -- presumably to return to the church on Michigan Avenue to drop off pallbearers -- while the limo with Ernie's body continued west on Irving Park, where TV coverage then stopped. Where his body was taken after that is not known.

This is all really sad, and certainly nothing that Ernie would have wanted. This article is the first I've heard that Ernie and his fourth wife Liz were headed for divorce. Here's hoping that this is resolved to the satisfaction of everyone involved. Ernie would surely have wanted it that way.