Greg Zanis

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Greg Zanis (November 27, 1950 – May 4, 2020) was an American carpenter who is most well known for building and delivering personalized crosses (and some Stars of David and crescents) to shooting victims across the United States.[1][2][3]

Early life[edit]

Zanis was born in Spokane, Washington, and grew up in Nashville to a father who was a Greek Orthodox priest, and a mother who was a Greek immigrant and worked as a seamstress. The family spoke Greek at home.[1]

Crosses for Losses[edit]

The first cross that Zanis (by this time, a resident of Aurora, Illinois) built was for his own father-in-law, a murder victim.[1] Shortly after the 1999 Columbine High School massacre, Zanis constructed 15 crosses (thirteen for the victim and two for the shooters, Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold) and delivered them to a park near the site of the shooting. The two crosses for Harris and Klebold were soon cut down by the father of one of the shooting victims.[4]

Since that time, Zanis built and delivered over 26,000 crosses, some with Stars of David and some crescents to sites of mass shootings and natural disasters across the United States. He later founded an organization to raise funds for this effort, called "Crosses for Losses". During that time, he kept handwritten notebooks of the names of the victims for whom he built memorials for.[3]

Personal life[edit]

In late 2019, Zanis was diagnosed with bladder cancer. He made arrangements to transfer the activities of his organization to the Lutheran Church Charities ministry of the Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod.[3] He died while in hospice in Naperville IL on May 4, 2020 at age 69.[5]


  1. ^ a b c "Greg Zanis Places Crosses for Latest Shooting Victims". The National Herald. August 8, 2019. Retrieved April 27, 2020. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  2. ^ Vigliotti, Jonathan (August 5, 2019). "Carpenter travels the country delivering crosses to mass shooting sites". CBS News. Retrieved April 27, 2020. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  3. ^ a b c McLaughlin, Eliott C. (April 27, 2020). "Illinois man who spent retirement delivering handmade crosses to mass shootings has weeks to live". CNN. Retrieved April 27, 2020. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  4. ^ "Columbine Shooting Aftermath – 1999". Archived from the original on August 28, 2016. Retrieved April 27, 2020. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  5. ^ McLaughlin, Eliott C. (May 4, 2020). "Greg Zanis, known the nation over as 'The Cross Man,' dies at 69". CNN. Retrieved May 4, 2020. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)

External links[edit]