AURORA, Ill. (WGN) — Greg Zanis, an Illinois man who for years took crosses and other remembrances to sites of mass shootings and other disasters, has died.
His daughter Susie Zanis confirmed he died early Monday morning. He was 69 years old.
Last year, Zanis was diagnosed with bladder cancer. On Friday, his daughter organized a drive-by procession and living visitation so his supporters could say their goodbyes. Zanis, who thought he had weeks to live, greeted everyone from the front porch.
Zanis’ organization, Crosses for Losses, is responsible for delivering and erecting about 27,000 memorials throughout the country.
Aurora Mayor Richard C. Irvin released the following statement:
“Mr. Greg Zanis was a giant among men. He was a man of action who simply wanted to honor the lives of others. In return, his life was one of honor and one that was celebrated throughout our nation and world. Heeding to the scripture ‘pick up your cross and follow me,’ Mr. Greg Zanis did just that. He picked up the crosses he made and followed his mission in the noblest of ways. His legacy shall forever be remembered in his hometown of Aurora and around the globe.”
Zanis played a huge part in honoring the victims of the Aug. 3 mass shooting at an El Paso Walmart.
He traveled 1,500 miles the day after the Walmart shooting to honor victims and help move El Paso toward healing.
When Zanis arrived at the Walmart memorial just nine months ago, he was asked why he does what he does. He told KTSM he doesn’t make the crosses for political reasons; he does it to remember the victims. “These are angels, because they’ve been murdered, and they’re gone, unanticipated death,” said Greg Zanis, who made the 1,500-mile trip with at least 20 crosses in his truck. He later had to have two added to the Walmart memorial site.
Just hours after arriving in El Paso, another mass shooting in Dayton, Ohio, took the lives of nine people at a night club. Zanis quickly headed to the Midwest to honor those victims.