Remembering Greg Zanis, Crosses for Losses Founder

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Greg Zanis found a way to bring hope in the midst of tragedy. The Aurora man built over 27,000 crosses to honor victims of gun violence.

“The Cross Man”

His Crosses for Losses mission began back in 1996, after a local 6-year-old was shot and killed. Since then, he traveled countless miles to communities across the country, placing his crosses to help remember and take note of lives lost. In return he received notes of gratitude from thankful families.

“I literally have hundreds of these,” said Zanis. “It’s my paycheck.”

Crosses For Losses

Zanis funded most of his mission out of his own pocket, at one point, finding himself more than $250,000 in debt. But he continued to build, even when tragedy struck close to home in 2019, with the Henry Pratt Company shootings.

“I just didn’t see that coming,” said Zanis. “I just felt so hurt happening in my own town.”

Zanis retired shortly after that, handing his Crosses for Losses mission over to Lutheran Church Charities of Northbrook late last year.

Remembering Zanis

His daughter Susie recently announced that Zanis had been diagnosed with terminal cancer. Last Friday, she held a drive-by celebration for community members to honor the man who supported so many communities throughout the years.

Susie announced Greg’s passing this morning in a Facebook post. The news prompted many to share thoughts on the “For a Hero” Facebook page, in memory of Zanis – sharing how he brought light during the darkest days.

Aurora’s Mayor Richard Irvin remembered Zanis in his own post, writing, “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 to honor and one that was celebrated throughout our nation and world… His legacy shall forever be remembered in Aurora and around the globe.”

Greg Zanis was 69 years old.

Naperville News 17’s Christian Canizal reports.