Celebrating life stories...



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

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01-16-2008 9:25 PM -- By: Jack Bienko,  From: Washington DC  

A fan of Thor's since first meeting him during WUG '93 in Buffalo.

Our thoughts and prayers to his family.


01-16-2008 9:23 PM -- By: John Mackel,  From: San Francisco  

I had been hearing stories for years about Thor from my friends Michael and Niall. He was a legend in my mind before I had even met him. This last summer, I did finally meet him and I am very glad that I did. He was clearly one of the good guys. Looking through this site, I can't help but think that Thor really knew how to live. I am sad and inspired. My thoughts go out to his family and friends.

01-16-2008 9:22 PM -- By: Anne Isenhower,  From: Atlanta  

Thor, we love you and will miss you. I hope that your family can take some comfort in knowing that you were so well loved by so many.

Your friend, Anne

01-16-2008 9:08 PM -- By: Molly Gimmel,  From: Alexandria, VA  

I first met Thor when he worked in Atlanta with my good friend Martha. After he moved to DC, we would do happy hour at all the Irish pubs in the area. Even though I wasn't part of the Events crowd, Thor always made me feel welcome. I felt privileged to be on the mailing list for a couple Big Letters. I hadn't seen Thor since before he left for Kosovo, when we had a chat about the joys and challenges of working with USAID. The things I remember most are his incredible sense of humor, his rabid liberalism, and his absolute joy in being an uncle and spending time with his niece and nephew. Thor will be deeply missed.

01-16-2008 8:38 PM -- By: Chris Eppeland Pitcher,  From: Minnesota  

When my son started college at St. Olaf 6 years ago, he was quite unhappy. He said the people in his dorm were pretty boring, never came out of their rooms, never wanted to do anything. It has just occurred to me that he had no one like Thor in his dorm. We in Kildahl, our freshman year at St. Olaf, were a close group and Thor was a very integral part of that. We did so many stupid, fun things! Thor had endless amounts of energy and enthusiasm, cared deeply for his family and friends. I'm laughing and crying at the same time. What a guy. I am so very sorry..

01-16-2008 8:38 PM -- By: Liz Burke,  From: NYC  

Dear Thor, words can never express my gratitude for your friendship and love. Your lust for life and event swag is second to none. I have cried for 2 days and I know you would make fun of that and that makes me laugh thru my tears. You have touched thousands of people and even actually touched a few of the female variety. I have loved you for 15 years and will not stop now. I added a picture of you eating cake at Mikey's 50th birthday, my favorite pic of you with your mouth full!

Your selfless work around the world has made me more aware of my own selfish shortcomings and I vow to do more good in this world even i it's in my own backyard. I will not hate those who did this as that is not what you would have wanted, but Thor, it is very hard.

I don't know where you are, but wherever it is, please order me a glass of red wine, I'll wear my best white shirt and we will gossip, laugh and best of all, be together.

Your friend for always,


01-16-2008 8:30 PM -- By: Oli Orton,  From:  

I never mastered the frisbee hammer, Thor, I didn't practice enough; you got me close though, even though I didn't play much. The warmest, friendliest guy you could meet. Thinking of your family and countless friends all round the world.

01-16-2008 8:17 PM -- By: Ann Richardson,  From:  

Dear Family and Friends of Thor,

I met Thor following the first campaign to elect David Wu and interacted on occasion over the years as a Wu congressional staffer. Thor was a larger than life image in Wu-World and his passing is sadly noted. I'll light a candle for him so that as he makes the transition to where ever it is that good souls go he'll know another Oregonian friend is wishing him safe journey. Ann Richardson

01-16-2008 8:01 PM -- By: Veronica,  From: Spain  

I remember the first time I saw Thor. It was during one of the first KTA bids in UNMIK theater, and Thor was the master of ceremonies. I had just arrived in Kosovo two or three days back then, as an intern, and even in my naiv way of trying to grasp how things worked out, the places and the people, I could immediately felt his aura, and since I met him I felt I was somehow a bit safer. He was truly a caring human being. He possessed an extraordinary power to attract pleople, and his good-spirits was just contagious. Thor, i am so grateful to have met you. Thanks so much for your joy, your generosity, your witty comments, your passion for every single thing you were invoved in... Thank you for all the good memories, and your lessons for life... I miss you. Love.

01-16-2008 7:55 PM -- By: Heidi Nordberg,  From: Atlanta  

My heart flies out to the family and friends of Thor Hesla. In particular, my dear professor Dr. David Hesla is in my thoughts.

01-16-2008 7:50 PM -- By: Laura Cushing,  From: Boise, ID  

Thor sayes "LC you are way above the rim - shoot lower" I feel privelged to have worked with Thor. I image he is in Heaven saying "This is a interesting way to look at thing"

God Bless you Thor for making our lives richer. You will be missed!

My thoughts go out to all his family and friends.

01-16-2008 7:36 PM -- By: Kirk Adams,  From: Kosovo  

Thor Hezla died in a terrorist attack in a well guarded hotel in Afganistan. A terrible and pointless waste of a wonderful life. What can we say to give this any meaning? I am lost for the right words– anything I say will be inadequate and fall short of the honour we owe to the man, our friend, our colleague. Thor was a real friend to me and Lu as he was to many many other people. I worked closely with him for nearly 4 year at the KTA… he was the best man at our wedding in Kiev and played his part with customary gusto…. We played ultimate together, skied together and watched Rugby together…… He was the Thorganiser of most of our social lives – he was fun, the life and soul of the party….. and I never heard him say a bad word about anybody – apart from Fucci and Lambsdorf… and even then – only because they were trying to fire him (and me) at the time…… We survived that scrape – and went on to see both of them off the premises. It was fun – we worked hard – we fought for what was right – and we ultimately won the battle.

He gladly passed on his knowledge to his colleagues…. And we all missed him when he left us – He was a true professional at work and 31 bid days later – not to mention press points – speeches – presentations - countless advertisements – brochures – how too manuals… we still benefit from the phenomenal detail and skill that he brought to everything he worked on….. Privatization worked – and we changed the world for the better because of it….. Now 500 newcompanies privatized later with nearly 400 million in sales – we can clearly say – we helped revitalize the economy of Kosovo and create better stability in the region. We changed the world and Thor was a big part of that.

He was generous in the extreme - I often saw him take up the slack in a big bar bill – or cover for those less well paid than himself – he did it selflessly, and without any big ceremony – he didn’t want to be acknowledged for his generosity – he just did it – because it made him feel good – and it helped others out. He never sweated on the small stuff.

He was the keenest of sportsman – I don’t remember him ever missing an ultimate game when he was around – he always went out of his way to welcome new players – to teach newbies – and to make sure everyone was welcome – often spending hours teaching people throws – or the rules – or how to drink vodka shots at the ultimate parties.

He lived life to the Max and his enthusiasm was infectious. In many ways I wanted to be like him – to have that generosity of spirit – to always look for the good in others – to be so popular with everyone whom he touched. He was larger and life and we will miss him dearly. We were lucky to be a part of his big friendship network. He was irrepressible in his optimism – and very difficult to refuse when he started organizing some social event or parties.

Today is a day of great sadness – I hear his voice and the many funny things he said. I hope to never forget him and the great fun he was. I hear his wise counsel when we were in a scrape. Today the world is a much poorer place for his passing…. There is nothing I can say to assuage this great sadness. We loved him and he loved us. I am just proud I could call him friend.

Kirk Adams

01-16-2008 7:17 PM -- By: Sven Lindholm,  From: New York & Pristina  

Thor & I are two of the "founding fathers of the Kosovo ultimate group. It started off thanks to our love of a silly little piece of plastic and developed into a tight social group. We have travelled around the world and had planned to be skiing in Canada in a few weeks.

Thor. I love you man. A big thank you to the Hesla's for sharing their son with us. You will be missed.

01-16-2008 6:59 PM -- By: Heleen Baartmans,  From: the Netherlands  

Thor, you were the one who adopted any new arrival in Kosovo and took him/her up in your warm social circle! You have touched so many lives in an amazing way. Thank you.

01-16-2008 6:51 PM -- By: Joel Hechavarria,  From: Atlanta  

I went to High School at Briarcliff with Thor. I just found out a few minutes ago. My heart goes out to the family and his friends. I'm sorry I hadn't seen him in a long time. However, he will always be a great part of my life. Friends are forever! May God bless the Hesla family and everyone who knew him.


Joel H

01-16-2008 6:51 PM -- By: Darrell Collins ,  From: Seattle WA  

When I first met Thor, he came into the warehouse in Atlanta - a house of fire asking for everything and anything he could get his hands on. He was one colorful guy and fell in love with his spirt every since. I will remember him well from the "Battle in Seattle" - WTO 1999 stories and his colorful play by play commentary.

01-16-2008 6:01 PM -- By: Chip Schiug,  From: Vancouver, BC by the way if Indiana  

I first met Thor back in Atlanta and had the great pleasure to get to know him more over the years through a mutual friend, Michael Pitts. We would always pop in each other's lives sporadically but it was always guaranteed when this happened we would discuss our travels, work, women and his Ann Coulter article over many beers.

Thor you will be sorely missed for the boundless energy that accompanied you and the way you made me laugh hysterically.

My condolences to the Hesla family, his close friends and all the people that he touched during his life.

Peace be with you Thor.

01-16-2008 5:57 PM -- By: Ingrid Kullberg-Bendz,  From: Swedish living in New York  

I never met Thor. I am sorry I never did. (Thor is the name of the God of Thunder in ancient Norse mythology. An impressive man.) I only heard about him through his old friend Elizabeth Burke. My most sincere and heartfelt condolences to his family and friends. Thor - rest in peace. Ingrid Kullberg-Bendz

01-16-2008 5:44 PM -- By: Stacey D'Aquila Hatfield,  From: Las Vegas, NV  

I first met Thor while working on health care reform in the early 1990's. I was young and impressionable, and as you can imagine, Thor made quite an impression. After that, Thor led me to many future jobs, including the Bradley campaign.

I last saw Thor while he was in Las Vegas for a wedding this summer. It was, as always, so good to see him, hear his entertaining stories and laugh with him. I will miss him very much.

My thoughts and prayers are with his family.

01-16-2008 5:40 PM -- By: Jill Runkel,  From: Ashland, WI (94-97 Atlanta)  

Thor was one of those people you meet in life, that you just don't forget. He always made me laugh and brought joy to all those who were fortunate to be around him. My sympathies to all his loved ones.

01-16-2008 5:36 PM -- By: Lisa Redline,  From: Washington, DC  

I am so sorry to hear of Thor's untimely death. Thor was a generous, courageous, sweet, and very funny person. My heartfelt condolences go out to his family and close friends.

01-16-2008 5:36 PM -- By: Janet V. Green,  From: Norfolk, VA, Washington DC  

I was so sad (and angry) to hear this news just today. I met Thor during the 1988 Convention, but got to really KNOW him during the 1992 Convention in New York! He always made us laugh when he would stop by our offices to chat and catch up on the latest convention gossip.

Maren and Bernard, my deepest and sincerest condolences on this tragic loss.

01-16-2008 5:20 PM -- By: John Laszlo, MD,  From:  

Thor was a wonderful and caring person. I knew him as a long-time great friend to my daughter, Jennifer Laszlo Mizrahi. John Laszlo

01-16-2008 5:16 PM -- By: Ellen Moran,  From: Washington, DC  

Over the last 48 hours in Democratic politics, the question is "Who DIDN'T know Thor"? I did - although not well - and I was always struck by how he seemed larger-than-life, always-in-motion, barrell-ahead and completely unafraid. He lived big, perhaps befitting his too brief time with us here. Last fall, though I hadn't seen him in years, he wanted to contact me on some business, and his email said something like, "I don't know if you remember me, our paths have crossed over the years". I thought, good Lord, Thor, who could forget you?!?! I never will. Ellen Moran

01-16-2008 5:07 PM -- By: James Gaston,  From: Texas  

My dear friend Sara Howard sent me an email asking me if I had Micheal Pitts cell phone nunmber. Naturally, we both took this as an opportunity to call each other and catch up because it had been a while since we talked. This is how I found out about Thor. After looking through the guest book entries I was not surprised to see the names of so many mutual friends. Thor, even though we only crossed paths a couple of times, they were always memorable. My heartfelt condolences go out to your family and friends. Thor, you will always be remembered and sorely missed.

01-16-2008 5:04 PM -- By: Eleanor Lee,  From: Atlanta, Ga  

This photo personifies Thor - I'm flooded with memories that have left an indelible imprint on my mind and heart. His spirit lives on. I smile and even chuckle amidst my tears.

My heart goes out to David, Maren, Bernard, Olivia and young David.

Godspeed, Thor.


01-16-2008 5:02 PM -- By: Former Congressman Peter Barca,  From: Kenosha, WI  

Thor was a striking person due to so many wonderful personal qualities and talents that he contributed to so many causes that he believed in. He worked successfully to help to elect me to Congress in 1993. From the moment he rolled into Kenosha he brought a sense of energy, direction, and humor that helped everyone to step up their performance. He kept in touch over the years and I always looked forward to hearing from him. He will be sadly missed by his wide spectrum of firends and his work will be missed across the globe - he was a positive force in the international development field.

01-16-2008 4:49 PM -- By: Vinnie Varon,  From: Huntington Beach, Ca.  


01-16-2008 4:39 PM -- By: Fiona Evans,  From: U.S.  

I met Thor in Kosovo when I was working at the U.S. Office Pristina. He was the kind of guy who made you feel like an old friend from the first meeting.

My thoughts and prayers go out to his family and friends.

01-16-2008 4:24 PM -- By: Chris Anderson,  From: Belfast  

Thor. Sincere Condolences to you and your family & friends. I am a friend of Juliet Lang & her Mom Valerie in Dublin. Juliet is devasted at your calling & was a friend of yours in Kosovo. I have never met you but have so much respect for NGO's & the UN who go in and make the world a better place. I am a simple Yorkshireman and have organised prayers in England tommorow for your family & the friends that miss you. I served in Kosovo as British UN and then handed it over to you guys to do amazing work. Your zest for life and 'can do' attitude is amazing. You have touched a lot of lives and enriched them. Your passing has devasted a lot of dear friends who miss you. It's now time for us to care for them and support your memory. Thanks for your amazing work & contribution to the world. Rest easy as your friends will carry on your work in your memory & spirit and never ever be defeated by cowards.

Stand down big Fella your duty is done.

RIP Thor


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