Those clusters of crosses drivers pass daily across West Virginia and in dozens of other states? They’re the enduring work of the Rev. Bernard Coffindaffer, who died of a heart attack at his Nicholas County home on Oct. 8, 1993.
In 1984, Coffindaffer began erecting trios of crosses – one painted gold framed by two blue ones, each made from California Douglas fir. By the time of his death, he’d spent some $3 million to have crews place nearly 2,000 of the clusters across the United States and in Zambia and the Philippines.
The native West Virginian had found success as a businessman in the coal-washing industry before turning to evangelism in his 40s. After open-heart surgery in 1982, he reported a spirit appeared to him and told him to begin the cross project.
“The crosses are to remind people to remember that Jesus was crucified on a cross at Calvary for our sins,” he said in a 1991 interview. A Mississippi woman has formed a nonprofit to continue the work. Her organization, Crosses Across America, also has restored some aging Coffindaffer crosses.