When 88-year-old World War II veteran Porter B. Cross arrived at Zizic Dental to be fitted for a new set of dentures, his face was still swollen and the inside of his mouth was bruised.
Two days earlier, on July 30, 2012, Cross had been attacked by three robbers who left him beaten on a sidewalk in Chicago South Side neighborhood Englewood.
The story touched the hearts of Dr. Barbara Brisk Zizic, and her husband, Dr. William Zizic, who saw it covered on the local television news.
“I saw a video clip,” said Barbara Zizic. “His dentures were in someone’s hand. They were broken into three pieces.”
That’s when the Zizics decided they wanted to help, and would provide Cross with a new set of dentures for free.
“We knew he’d be in a bind to get his dentures replaced,” said Barbara Zizic. “They took his wallet.”
The couple also saw it as an opportunity to express their gratitude to men and women like Cross who have served their country.
The Zizics could relate to such a service. Barbara Zizic’s father was a World War II veteran, who served in Italy, and William is also veteran. He served as a captain in the U.S. Army, and also ran a dental clinic at Fort Knox, Ky., during the Vietnam War.
Cross served in the U.S. Navy in the Pacific during World War II.
“He told me his group outran submarines,” said William Zizic. “And here he was [after the crime] sitting on the side of the road.”
The first task was to repair the broken dentures, and then create a new set of uppers and lowers, which the Zizics estimated would usually cost $2,500 each.
Cross’s daughter, Cynthia Steward-Jones, said the Zizics’ generosity has restored the family’s faith in humanity.
“They’re doing it from their hearts,” she said. “They didn’t have to. We think they’re wonderful. They stepped up and cared enough.”
William Zizic said he’s happy to be able to help a veteran.
“He didn’t deserve that [beating],” he said. “People like him have made our country possible.”
He said he looks forward to fitting Cross with his new set of dentures.
“I feel gratified and enthusiastic when he comes in,” William said. “He was depressed at first, but now he smiles. I like seeing him smile.”