Reinbeck Lions host bingo to benefit McLean family

Lions Club raises $2K toward newly renamed Tom McLean Park

Bingo players gathered at Reinbeck Legion Post 242 for a fundraiser hosted by the Reinbeck Lions Club to benefit the family of Tom McLean, longtime owner-operator of Morris Inn Steakhouse who passed away in January. PHOTO BY JAKE RYDER

REINBECK – The Reinbeck American Legion Hall was filled with bingo players filling their cards for a good cause last Thursday night.

The Reinbeck Lions Club hosted the event at Post 242 in Reinbeck as a fundraiser for the Tom McLean family. McLean passed away in January of this year and was perhaps best known as co-owner of the Morris Inn Steakhouse alongside his wife, Kelly, for most of the last three decades, as well as working with partner Paul Cooley on PT Grillers from 2002 to 2020.

For many, it was a chance for those who knew him to reflect on his impact in the area.

Chris Thome, a loyal employee of Tom’s for the last 13 years, admitted she and others were still in shock after his passing.

“There’s nobody that can replace him,” Thome said. “He had such a heart of gold to help anyone and everyone out there. He just always made things fun. I lost not just my boss but my best friend.”


The pot for every successful bingo was split 50/50 with the winner and the McLean family. Additional donations were pledged through the night; the Legion and Sons of the American Legion chapters in Reinbeck also committed to each make a donation for the McLeans and the Reinbeck Woman’s Club additionally held a bake sale to benefit the memorial.

Lions Club President Dale Wambold considered McLean an “honorary Lion” for his work catering events for the Lions Club over the years.

“He was a very caring and helpful gentleman,” Wambold said. “His true passion was serving others, helping others, and preparing meals. And he did a very good job of that.”

McLean was also a major contributor in getting a new town park in Morrison, built across from the Morris Inn, to come to fruition. As a result, his longtime grilling partner Cooley recently successfully lobbied to have the park renamed in Tom’s honor.

“He was so instrumental in getting that park going,” Thome said. “He really pushed for that. And if there was ever a fundraiser, or a donation needed, just anything that anybody needed – Tom was there for them.”

Sun Courier note: Over the weekend, the Lions Club announced $2,000 was raised toward the newly renamed Tom McLean Park in Morrison.