Regina Rice defends herself against allegations involving Ernie Banks estate

ABC7 Exclusive

Cheryl Burton Image
Wednesday, February 18, 2015
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The woman at the center of a legal dispute involving Ernie Banks' estate defends herself following allegations by his family.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- In an ABC7 exclusive interview, the woman at the center of a legal dispute involving Ernie Banks' estate defends herself following allegations by his family.

Regina Rice said she was concerned about threats and attacks on social media and how she says she was being misrepresented in the media, and that made her want to speak out. Rice says she doesn't want anything, she simply wants to honor the wishes of Ernie Banks.

"So I whispered in his ear that it's OK to go," Rice said. "They worked on him at the hospital and then he died. And I felt that someone else should have been there."

Rice talks about the final moments of Ernie Banks' life. She says she told Banks' two sons his health was failing four days before he died.

"They were going to come the next week. And all I could do is say to myself 'I told you,'" Rice said.

Rice said she received a will in 2008 from Banks, and she said he was very specific about what he wanted in the event of his death.

"He wanted his remains cremated and spread among Wrigley Field while the wind is blowing," Rice said.

Then she says Banks made a new will in October 2014 after he fell and injured himself.

The sons contend that it was signed under duress, but Rice insists Banks was well aware of what he was doing.

"Then he says, 'Well, this is the part nobody likes: Are you of sound mind?'" Rice said. "And Ernie said, 'Show me where to sign.'"

ABC7's Cheryl Burton asks: "What about the sons' allegations that you would not allow Mr. Banks to speak with them?"

"I live at one place, he lives at another. He answered his phone for who he wanted to and when he wanted to," Rice said.

And she wanted to clear up her role in his life.

"I was Ernie's friend and confidante for over 12 years. I am not hired to be a caretaker, I'm not a hired employee," Rice said. "I gave care to someone I cared about."

Rice says Banks would have been disappointed with the turn of events since his passing.

"I'm not going to badmouth anybody; I'm not going to tarnish his legacy or his name. And now I see exactly why he wanted to protect it," Rice said.

ABC7 reached out to the attorney for the sons of Ernie Banks but has not received a response. ABC7 also called the attorney who Rice said handled the will that was executed in last October by Banks, but calls were not returned.

PHOTOS: Ernie 'Mr. Cub' Banks, 1931-2015