The Cross Guy

Chicago Reader

Greg Zanis is driving along a winding country road in Kane County, searching for the spot where a motorcyclist was struck and killed. The end of an eight-foot wooden cross, painted white, hangs off the back of his pickup truck, above a bumper sticker that says, “Life Is Short. Pray Hard.”

Earlier in the day Zanis, a self-employed Aurora carpenter and general contractor, had written the motorcyclist’s name, Greg Taylor, on the cross in black marker. He’d also affixed a tiny stuffed bear to it, along with a blue “remembrance” pin shaped like an AIDS ribbon.

Zanis didn’t know Taylor. But when he hears about a sudden,..