SPORTS

Amid dispute over Ernie Banks' remains, estate, clerk says Cubs great was buried in Chicago

02/17/2015 08:37 EST | Updated 04/19/2015 05:59 EDT
CHICAGO - The disclosure Tuesday that Cubs great Ernie Banks has been buried at a Chicago cemetery just a few blocks from Wrigley Field answered a question that had lingered for days amid a legal fight between Banks' family and his caretaker.

Jim Scalzitti, a spokesman for the Cook County Clerk's office, said that the death certificate for the Hall of Famer shows that Banks was buried at Graceland Cemetery.

On Friday, The Associated Press reported there was a dispute between Banks' family and his caretaker over what the family contended was his caretaker's desire to have Banks' remains cremated.

Court documents and interviews made it clear Banks' estranged wife, Elizabeth Banks, had prevented Banks from being cremated. An attorney for Elizabeth Banks said Ernie Banks was buried at Graceland Cemetery. But questions remained as a person who answered the phone at Graceland but declined to give her name said Banks was not buried there. The Cubs and the funeral home that handled his arrangements declined to comment.

Again on Tuesday, the cemetery declined to confirm whether Banks was buried there.

Elizabeth Banks' attorney, Mark Bogen, would say Tuesday only that his client "received a court order giving her permission to get him buried, and she acted in accordance with that court order and buried her husband."

Scalzitti said that the burial did not take place until February 6. That was a week after Banks' funeral, which included a procession in which the hearse bearing his names drove slowly by the ballpark where Banks spent his entire 19-year career.

Banks once famously told a newspaper that when he died he hoped his ashes could be scattered at Wrigley Field. And while there was no mention in court documents of what Banks' estranged fourth wife suspected would become of the ashes, caretaker Regina Rice in a statement on Monday said she was "determined" to carry out Banks' wishes. She did not specifically mention cremation.

The dispute over Banks' remains is part of a larger legal battle over his estate. On Monday, three weeks after the 83-year-old Banks suffered a fatal heart attack, his adult children, Jerry and Joey Banks, alleged that their father was ill when Rice had him sign a power of attorney, a health care directive and a will that gave everything to Rice. They said they did not know of the existence of a new will, signed and dated Oct. 17 of last year, that included the provision that he was not leaving anything to Elizabeth Banks or his children.

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