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2 state troopers die of cancer within two days of each other

Rob Veldkamp and Derek HaehnelĀ  were 49 and 36, respectively.
Robert Dale Veldkamp and Derek Jon Haehnel, state trooper

The Minnesota State Patrol is in mourning after the cancer-related deaths of two troopers this past week.

In a heartfelt Facebook post on Friday, the patrol announced the passing of Rob Veldkamp, 49, and Derek Haehnel, 36:

Veldkamp, a father of seven children, worked in the patrol's Marshall District and died Sunday, November 14. According to his obituary, he began his career in law enforcement in 1993 as a deputy for Murray County. He joined the State Patrol in 1999 and served as a trooper "for the next 22 years."

Rob was quick-witted, could talk to anyone, and spent his time loving and leading his family well. Not only was he an amazing dad, Rob was a devoted husband who loved Tricia and put her and his family's needs constantly before his own. Christian music and attending Christian music festivals were some of his favorites, along with enjoying food with friends and colleagues and sharing conversations with his kids after sporting events over chips and salsa. He inspired a love for Christian music in his kids, a hearty work ethic, and a passion for sports. Most importantly though, he pointed them to Jesus, whom he claimed as his personal Savior and Lord.

Veldkamp was diagnosed with a brain tumor in 2008 "and spent the next 13 years amazing those around him with his tenacity, strength, and love for Jesus and his family."

Meanwhile, Derek Haehnel, who died two days after Veldkamp on Tuesday, November 16, is remembered as "an amazing father" who was "not your typical fair-weathered Vikings fan," according to his obituary:

Throughout the years Derek enjoyed many hobbies. He was a very determined person and taught himself how to snowboard and play the guitar. He also loved playing golf, frisbee golf, racquetball, and softball with friends. Derek was not your typical fair-weathered Vikings fan. As a seven-year season ticket holder, he attended many games and was a true fan. Derek enjoyed working out and was a member of a CrossFit gym for many years. He even built his own garage gym to workout at home once life got busy. In the recent years Derek took up playing Call of Duty online with friends and collecting sports cards. Derek was a fan of the show Survivor and was planning on attending the 2020 casting call until it was cancelled due to COVID. 

The obituary notes that he earned two lifesaving awards during his time with the State Patrol.  

Haehnel died at his home "after a long battle with melanoma."

"Troopers Veldkamp and Haehnel were wonderful members of the State Patrol," Friday's Facebook post says. "They left behind great families and young kids. Thank you for the people in the Marshall and west metro areas who have surrounded their families and greater community with support and love."

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