AURORA, IL – Greek-American Greg Zanis who made crosses and brought them to the sites of many mass shootings across the United States passed away on May 4 following a battle with bladder cancer, the Chicago Tribune reported. He was 69.
Aurora Mayor Richard Irvin said in statement on May 4, the Tribune reported, “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, the founder of the organization Crosses for Losses, was diagnosed in November 2019 with bladder cancer, CNN reported, adding that “he was originally given a few years to live, but the cancer spread and his health crumbled, his family says,” and was “in home hospice care and doesn't have long left.”
Zanis told CNN in a recent phone interview, “I'm very, very devastated with the whole thing. I can't stand the thought of doing nothing.”
“His friends and loved ones, as well as those he touched in almost a quarter-century of delivering and erecting about 27,000 memorials created in his Aurora, IL workshops, want to see him and share their condolences,” CNN reported, adding that “with Illinois under stay-at-home orders amid the coronavirus pandemic, it's not safe for Zanis to accept visitors.”
“His daughter, Susie, plans to host a ‘living visitation’ Friday so folks can come say hello and goodbye from the yard, and Zanis will greet them from the front porch window,” CNN reported, noting that “signs expressing fond wishes and memories are encouraged.”
Susie Zanis told CNN, ”God used him in a wonderful way, and I'm happy that He used him to bless others the way he did. We’re going to miss him terribly here, but the Lord is faithful, so one day at a time.”
Greg Zanis told CNN about his current condition, “Lots of pain all the time. I don't know why I'm suffering for so many months.. Everything is struggling.”
Following his diagnosis in November, Zanis underwent “surgery to remove a tumor but soon learned the cancer had metastasized,” CNN reported.
"We thought he had more time, and unfortunately after the PET scan, the cancer is all over the place," his daughter told CNN.
A few days after Christmas, Zanis told CNN “he was worn out and would be handing over his cross ministry to Lutheran Church Charities,” adding that “his final trip was to Saugus High School in Santa Clarita, a city north of Los Angeles, where he delivered two crosses.”
At that time, he told CNN, “I am tired. I suffer a lot when I do [the crosses]. It's very hard on me. I had the weight of the world on my shoulders.”
Zanis at that time made no mention to CNN of his diagnosis, and “in fact, he was looking forward to teaching the charity's staffers to build the crosses — as well as to a personal project: restoring a shot-up 1927 Cadillac Imperial stretch limousine that once belonged to a Chicago gangster, he said,” CNN reported.
The details concerning funeral arrangements were not available at press time.