Celebrating life stories...



Memorial created 01-15-2008 by
Howard Yellen
Thor David Hesla
April 1 1962 - January 14 2008

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01-17-2008 1:27 PM -- By: Denise Peck,  From: Atlanta, GA  

I am a BHS classmate of Thor's. I will always remember his funny nature and me bugging him in English class. Always a gentleman and a sweet person.. Tragic loss to us all.! My prayers are with his family..

01-17-2008 1:24 PM -- By: Gary Mastrodonato,  From: Atlanta  

The first time I saw Thor was at a meeting at the 1996 Paralympic Committee Offices. He was new to the organization and was being briefed in a large room by several people on it's operations. He had a pencil in his left hand but never used it to jot one note. Instead he twirled it. I can't remember a damn thing about the meeting except that I had to learn how to twirl a pencil like that! The amazing thing was he had full retention of the meeting, demonstrating that when he came to my office a few days later, to chat. A true Rara Avis. Pax Thor.

01-17-2008 1:19 PM -- By: Solomon & Violet Das,  From: California  

We remember your wonderful charm and ebullience at son, Sherwin, and Karina's wedding in Riga, Latvia during July 2005.

Rest In Peace, Dear Thor.

With Our Love And Prayers.

Solomon & Violet Das

01-17-2008 1:07 PM -- By: Jan Rivers,  From: Decatur, Ga.  

I knew Thor at Emory. We both played rugby and I had a big crush on him. He was a really good guy. I saw him again a few years after college and he was so enthusiastic about what he was doing in DC!

01-17-2008 1:03 PM -- By: Tonya Koslo,  From: VA  

Thor was one-of-a-kind. I remember the first day I met Thor at Laszlo & Associates...I had never met this crazy man and he ran up to me and grabbed me in a bear hug. I kept thinking my mama told me about weird guys like you in DC before I moved here... I was stunned, but then he said "I am home and please say Ya'll for me again!" He always "picked" on me in a Thor-way because of my southern accent. But, he always told me it made him feel relaxed when he heard me speaking. He will definitely be missed!

01-17-2008 12:09 PM -- By: Karen Lewis,  From: Arlington, VA  

The buswomen are all so sad. Howard, thanks for putting up this great site.

01-17-2008 11:53 AM -- By: Ian and Dorothy Maddison,  From: Virginia  

Dorth and I will miss her cousin. We want to remind folks of the bikini & cigar picture from Kosovo, typical of his sense of fun and enjoyment of life. Ever the wry philosopher, in childhood he once sported a bright badge with the words "ignore this!".

01-17-2008 11:38 AM -- By: Janeen Lawlor,  From: new jersey  

I have seen the phrase "larger than life" over and over again when it comes to describing Thor, and I can't think of a better way to describe him. I met Thor on the Bradley campaign, when I was brand new to politics. I remember that when I would get cranky due to the lack of sleep you encounter on presidential races, he would ever so nicely mock me so that I'd buck up. He lived life to the fullest, and brought so much enthusiasm to everything he did that he'd motivate everyone else to try to meet his work ethic, whether it was for getting out the vote or getting together to drink a few pints. I haven't seen him in a few years, but I always look forward to his e-mails and updates. I don't think many of us realized how much Thor had touched our hearts until now. He will be missed, but more than that, he will be remembered.

01-17-2008 11:37 AM -- By: Louise O'Rourke,  From: Wexford  

I first met Thor in Kosovo in April/ May 2003 where I spent 1 year and kept in touch thereafter every so often on email. Thor was a great guy and so much more but I'm lost for words .... my sympathy and prayers are with his family and friends around the world whose life he touched unforgettably no doubt as he did mine. Thanks to those who arranged the memorial website. Louise

01-17-2008 11:34 AM -- By: Ingemar,  From:  

Miss you forever, love you always

01-17-2008 11:20 AM -- By: Shari Fitzgerald,  From: Fort Dodge, Iowa  

Thank you so much for this site. It helps being out in the boonies with no one around to share my anger and saddness and frustration and disbelief that this wonderful person is no more.

There was no one like him. The Iowa Bradley team was so enriched to have him in our world working and playing.

His writing of Kabul made one sorry they were not there to share in the beauty he saw, but mindful of the danger. His cup wasn't half full, it was always full. In that campaign, between us the glass was half full.

I remain heartbroken over this needless murder. May his glorious spirit live on in us all.

01-17-2008 11:12 AM -- By: Patrick Quigley,  From: Virginia  

We should all still try to smile. Thor would be the first person to want us to do that. After all, he is the one who said to me post-9/11 at some DC bar, on one of the last times I saw him before he went to Kosovo, "If we don't have another round of beers, then the terrorists will have won." We can't let them win.

01-17-2008 10:32 AM -- By: Dennis Yedwab,  From: Washington, DC  

Condolences from another Bradley alum

01-17-2008 10:13 AM -- By: Tom Weyandt,  From: Atlanta  

Words simply fail in the face of such an event. Thor's impact on people is clear from this memorial site. Thor was key to the '96 Paralympics as he obviously was to so many other important causes. One hopes this is comfort to his family and friends - who meet here for the first time perhaps.

01-17-2008 9:24 AM -- By: Naheed Awan,  From: Maryland  

Thank you for all that you've done for the people of this world. Rest in Peace.

01-17-2008 8:53 AM -- By: Shelly Rifkin,  From: Miami,Fl  

I am so sorry for all of you that loved and cared so much for Thor. I heard of him many times from Stephanie. My heart felt condolenses go to all who loved him. I am so sorry.

01-17-2008 8:19 AM -- By: Erdelina Dula,  From: Kosovo  

I worked with Thor at KTA, Kosovo, actually we shared the office for more than 3 years. Besides being a true professional at work, Thor was also a great friend. He was always there for me and the others. My condolences to his family and his friends.

You will be missed Thor.

Rest in peace my friend.

01-17-2008 7:47 AM -- By: Stan Miles,  From: Nebraska  

I'm also a Veteran and served in the 82nd Airborne and take every opportunity to thank and pray for our service men and women. Freedom is never free and I want to thank Thor and all the veterans past and present for your sacrifices. The real heros are the ones that never come home. I pray for Gods peace on all the family and friends of Thor David Helsa. You will be greatly missed by many. Rest in peace my military brother and peace to all who read this.

01-17-2008 7:39 AM -- By: andrew strong,  From: Kosovo via Chicago  

I am so sorry for your loss. Thor touched upon my life only briefly but he made quite an impression. My thoughts and sympathies are with you.

01-17-2008 6:54 AM -- By: Mrs. Elmer B. Bell,  From: Atlanta, GA  

Dear Mrs. Hesla and Marin,

Tracy told me of Thor's tragic and untimely passing. Please know that thousands of people, from all over the world, obviously, knew and loved Thor. Count me as one of them.

I know Tracy (Neware, DE) would dearly love to hear from Marin. If you wish, I can give your her address. You can reach me by calling Asbury Methodist Village in Gaithersburg, MD.

Devotedly, with fond memories,

Jody Bell (Remember CampFire Girls?)

01-17-2008 6:20 AM -- By: Alush Gashi,  From: Kosovo  

Rest in peace!

01-17-2008 4:43 AM -- By: Jayne Cravens,  From: USA  

I was in Kabul from March - August 2007, and, therefore, never met Thor. But having been to and by the Serena more times than I can count, and having done similar work to his while I was there, I feel like I've lost a friend. I am so, so sorry for his loss, and my heart goes out to his family and friends. And I've heard from so many Afghans who are mourning this man they never knew -- they, too, are heartbroken.

01-17-2008 2:37 AM -- By: Jose Hechavarria,  From: Atlanta,GA  

The sadness I feel overwhelms me. I just got the news from my brother Joel. I too belong to the legion of people priviledged to have called Thor my friend. His high-brow humor was lost on some, but I always enjoyed a good exchange with him. His easy going manner and steady approach to life was always a nice change of pace in the chaotic high school days. I'll always fondly remember him. The good do indeed die young. God keep you, friend. My thoughts and prayers are for your family and friends. May God's peace be with us as we celebrate your life and mourn your leaving. Happy Trails

01-17-2008 2:20 AM -- By: Jocelyn Augustino,  From:  

I can hear the exchange perfectly...

I say...."Hello Thor..."

You reply…"Hello Neuman"

We both chortle.

I keep having to stop and say...."What would Thor do?", you know...in that South park kind of way.

I know what you wouldn't want me to be doing...you wouldn't want me to cry but when you did see the tears start to gather in the corner of my eye in your ever so gentle voice you'd make that sound that would hit a few octaves...tilt your head and say..."Ohhhhh, honey, don't cry."

Well I've got to tell you it's damn hard not to. We were not prepared or ready for this departure.

You are the Rosetta stone among us, not I. You meant a whole lot to me Thor Hesla and every time we said goodbye you saw me cry...started off so many years ago when you took off for the Olympics in Atlanta...you were part of my extended family here in DC and I always hated to see you take off. Goodbyes were never my forte, never have been, never will be.

You were one of my rocks...you grounded me and helped me navigate through so many situations with your sassy, sometimes surly but always honest advice...your words of encouragement never ended and you always made me feel like a rock star…and even sometimes Brenda Starr;) You were a tremendous ego booster and I saw you do it with so many people…you made every person feel special…even Ann Coulter.

You always made time, unless of course you were consumed with the Simpsons...those damn Simpsons and I believe it’s going to a goal of some of ours to get that damn screenplay published…it took you away from us so much over the past year…it seems like the least we can do.

Thor, you know, I’m always going to be a little angry at you for messing up our ski plans to Red Mountain for next month, you should have been at work figuring out your flight plans damn you!...not trying to get in shape!!! How dare you;) I was so ready to kick your ass all over that mountain…and you know I would have tried. I was also looking forward to Thor time and meeting the other random personalities that only you could bring together…sort of like a bunch of spare socks that gather over time.

I thank you for asking me to lunch over 15 year ago, and tolerating my surly response and telling you that I’d have lunch with anyone and to understand that it was not a date…Lucky for me that this would be the beginning of one of the best friendships I have ever had in my life.

So I bid you farewell and will live like you have taught me and tried to prepare me for. I think it was so fitting to see this on your facebook page.

Life is short, Break the rules, Forgive quickly, Kiss slowly, Love truly, Laugh uncontrollably, And never regret anything that made you smile.

I long for a gentle breeze that lets me know that you are nearby watching over me…perhaps a piece of paper that will gracefully fall to the floor….a flicker of a light…something, anything, just a sign…to help me believe that you are in a better place…

There will always be a place in my heart for you my darling, darling friend Thor. Life will not be the same without you.

à la prochaine


01-17-2008 1:15 AM -- By: Lulu Flores,  From: Austin, Texas  

Thor, my trusty Thorbot,

I cannot believe you are gone. I am so saddened by the news of your tragic and untimely death. My heart goes out to your family and your many friends around the world.

You will be missed -- as will your zany humor and zest for life. Thanks for being a part of my life.

Rest in peace, my friend.

Yours, Princess Lulu

01-17-2008 12:36 AM -- By: Ron Fennel,  From: Brunswick, GA  

Sister Maren, we feel for your loss.

What a life Thor led. Unbelievable. Rest in peace.


01-17-2008 12:27 AM -- By: Scott Hendler,  From: Austin, Texas  

The Good die young. We will miss you Thor. Keep an eye on us. Vaya con Dios.

Scott and Lulu (but she'll write separately...if I know Lulu:))

01-17-2008 12:21 AM -- By: Doug Heyl,  From: Atlanta, GA  

Heard a bell ring today which can only mean one thing, after a few days of explaining and negotiation Thor got his wings.

Deaths of loved ones before their time always are tragic but Thor being called home only means one thing to me God decided she needed to laugh more than the rest of us.

God speed Thor

01-16-2008 10:08 PM -- By: Patrick Kennedy,  From: Kankakee, IL  

Thor was great for giving me job opportunities - Bill Bradley's campaign in '00 (Iowa) along with other experiences (Inauguration '92/'93) which helped shape me. Your passion taught me passion. Thanks Thor!

01-16-2008 9:43 PM -- By: Doug Teper,  From: Atlanta  

"When the going gets wierd, the wierd turn pro" Way too many memories at unusual venues and events, even more memories blurry and forgotten. I'm looking for pictures from National Conventions and Olympics. He still believed in Democracy even after I got elected !

Doug Teper - BHS '76


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