Man who built crosses for Alabama tornado victims has died

2019 Newscast: Illinois man puts up crosses for Lee County storm victims

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WSFA) - An Illinois man who spent his retirement helping bring hope to people after disasters, including the deadly 2019 Beauregard tornado, has died.

The Associated Press reported the death of Greg Zanis Monday. The 69-year-old had been diagnosed with bladder cancer in 2019.

The carpenter founded Crosses for Losses as a tribute to his father-in-law, who was fatally shot in 1996. Over the years, Zanis set up crosses throughout the United States, including near the mass shootings at Columbine, Sandy Hook and Parkland and at the site of the Las Vegas music festival shooting and the Orlando nightclub shooting.

In 2019, after learning about the March 3 storm in Lee County that took 23 lives, Zanis went to his workshop and labored for 30 hours straight. He built crosses and brought them to Beauregard in order to offer some comfort to the brokenhearted community.

“We don’t know why this happened,” Zanis said in 2019. “We can’t do anything about the people who have passed away. We don’t want to see their families devastated. This is part of their healing process.”

In December, after making and delivering 27,000 crosses over more than two decades, Zanis announced he was retiring. On Friday, he greeted supporters who drove by his home as part of a drive-by procession and living visitation to celebrate his work.

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