ARNOLD, MO. - The St. Louis Hinder Club isn’t just a place to play handball.
“We come down here for a good cardiovascular workout. There’s no doubt about it,” said longtime member Ron Gronemeyer.
It’s more like a sanctuary for friendly competition and to blow off steam after work.
“If you had a hard day, you can get it out down here,” said member Jim Ward.
“The most important thing is to hit that ball more times than the other guy does,” Gronemeyer added while laughing.
But above all right now, the club is mourning one of its most beloved players.
“His locker is right across from mine. I look at the memorial when I come in. It’s tough,” said member Dan O’Donnell.
Pat McVey, 57, didn’t just own Maggie O’Brien’s, a popular restaurant and bar in downtown St. Louis.
“I broke him into handball,” Gronemeyer said.
The husband and father was also quite the athlete, who would be seen at the club several times a week playing or visiting with friends.
“He was a great handball player in my mind," Ward said. "He could have played at the tournament level.”
McVey belonged to the Hinder Club for about 25 years. His membership dated back to a time when the club played at the old St. Louis Armory on Market St.
In fact, he was driving to play on Nov. 9 when he was shot and killed while headed southbound on Interstate 55 around 2:30 p.m. He wasn’t discovered until several hours later.
“At first, I couldn’t believe it happened. Then it was trying to grasp what happened or why it would have happened,” O’Donnell said.
“I was shocked," Ward said. "It’s pretty tough because we’re a tight knit community.”
Needless to say, word of McVey’s murder left his friends shocked and dumbfounded.
Gronemeyer and his family had just seen McVey at Maggie O’Brien’s over lunch about an hour before this death.
“That’s exactly what I said. ‘I’ll see you later’,” he said about his last words to McVey.
But through all of their grief and sorrow, McVey’s handball buddies have seen opportunity.
“We feel like we wanted to do something," O’Donnell said, "because we feel helpless.”
Together, they’ve raised about $8,000 for St. Louis Regional Crimestoppers. It’s money they hope will keep the case alive.
“That’s the tough part because in my mind, it’s a cold case,” Ward said. “You know, we struggle with whether or not the person will ever be apprehended.”
But ultimately, members at the club want to see someone pay for taking away a man they won’t soon forget.
“How we’re going to remember him is very dearly" Gronemeyer said, "and for a very, very long time.”
Overall, the reward total for McVey’s death sits at more than $82,000. It’s the largest amount St. Louis Regional Crimestoppers has ever seen.
And it could be yours if you come forward with information that leads to an arrest and charges in the case.