Maker of Star of David memorials outside Tree of Life dies at 69
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Maker of Star of David memorials outside Tree of Life dies at 69

Greg Zanis founded Crosses for Losses

Greg Zanis created the Star of David memorials outside of the Tree of Life building. Photo by Maureen Kelly Busis
Greg Zanis created the Star of David memorials outside of the Tree of Life building. Photo by Maureen Kelly Busis

Greg Zanis, who for the last 20 years made and delivered memorial markers to the sites of mass shootings, died May 4 of cancer. He was 69.

Zanis founded Crosses for Losses as a tribute to his father-in-law who was killed in 1996, according to USA Today.

“It really helped me with my grieving process,” Zanis said in 1999.

Since the late 1990s, Zanis made more than 26,000 crosses to honor the victims of massacres and erected them at shooting sites including Columbine, Newtown, San Bernardino, Parkland, Las Vegas, Thousand Oaks, Dayton and El Paso.

Shortly after the massacre at the Tree of Life building on October 27, 2018, Zanis came to Pittsburgh and placed 11 Star of David memorials outside the synagogue to honor each of the 11 victims who were killed during the anti-Semitic rampage.

Zanis retired from his organization in late 2019, according to USA Today, saying the work had become too much for him personally and financially.

“I had a breaking point in El Paso,” USA Today reported Zanis saying, referring to the massacre at a Walmart there. “I hadn’t slept for two days, it was 106 degrees and I collapsed from the pressure when I heard there were two more victims of the mass shooting.”

The Illinois resident built all the crosses, Stars of David, and crescent moons for Muslims, by hand, according to CNN.PJC

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