MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – The Minnesota State Patrol is celebrating its 90th anniversary this year, and there’s no shortage of history and tradition – not to mention a family legacy.

A member of the Hodapp family has been a Minnesota state trooper since 1957 — that’s three generations so far.

“The favorite part is what you do to help people when they are in trouble,” said Phil Hodapp, a retired state trooper.

People in law enforcement often look at their fellow officers as family. The Hodapps look at their fellow officers and actually see their family. It began when Phil was a college student back in 1957.

“And about the time the patrol was running a test and I thought well, I’ll take the test and see what happens. Well, the rest is history,” Phil said.

He had no way of knowing just how much history would be made. Phil’s son, Mat, became a trooper in 1982. He married Lori, who became a trooper in 1984. And now their son Nathan is carrying on the family tradition.

“When Nathan wanted to go into law enforcement, that was pretty neat. When he got into the State Patrol, that was even neater,” said Mat Hodapp, a retired state trooper.

It turned out that Lori was academy director while her son was in training. And at Nathan’s 2015 graduation, his dad and grandpa did something pretty special. They gave him badge No. 12 – the same one they had worn during their trooper days.

“Watching him walk across the stage and have Phil and Mat pin him and being the director at the time was just a thrill,” Lori said.

Any apprehension that Phil, Mat and Lori had about Nathan taking to the highways and roadways quickly went away when they realized he was in this for the same reasons they were – to help others when they need it most.

“Hopefully they appreciate you being around to help them out. That’s a good feeling,” Nathan said.

“They’ve done a great job all the way down to Nathan. It makes me feel proud of them,” Phil added.

It’s a job that can be risky and rewarding at the same time. Something that will be made clear to the next generation of Hodapps.

“That’s a lot of Hodapps in the Minnesota State Patrol,” Lori said. “We try not to put too much pressure on Nathan in regards to his future and whether there will be another Hodapp there, but you never know.”

Next Thursday, the Minnesota State Patrol will hold its 90th Anniversary celebration outside the State Capitol from 12 to 4 p.m.

John Lauritsen