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 4:13 PM -- By: Mark Conley,  From: Los Angeles  

Thor was a dear friend and work mate. I met him at Clinton's first Inauguration and our paths cross again in Buffalo and Atlanta. I will surely miss the annual Big Letter, sweaty hand shakes and shared pints in 5 Points. Your family is in our prayers.

Mark and Ally Conley

01-16-2008 4:11 PM -- By: Sarah Howell,  From: UK  

I worked with Thor in Kosovo, through good times and bad. Whenever I returned he was always there - larger than life! I'm sorry that there won't be chance to bump into him again.

01-16-2008 3:55 PM -- By: David Toomey,  From: New York  

I had a short gig in Kosovo in the summer of 2003. I got there and really didn't know anyone. A mutual friend told me to look up Thor when i got there. I had heard of Thor but had never met him. I looked him and he immediately invited me out to various outings with he and his many friends that he had there. We became fast friends and I always remembered the way he helped me out there, mostly bc we had mutual freinds in DC. He was a big help. My stint in Kosovo didn't last long and I had lost touch with him in the last couple of years, although I had heard he was still in Kosovo as of last year. This news totally saddens me. Thor had a personality and magnetism that drew people to him. He will be sorely missed.

01-16-2008 3:33 PM -- By: Ella Lancaster,  From: Woodbridge, VA  

I only know Thor through a family member who is my good friend, but I know he was quite a wonderful human being. I am so sorry he has been taken way too soon.

01-16-2008 3:26 PM -- By: Bujar,  From: Prishtina, Kosova  

I am really shocked. It is a sad lost. Rest in peace , dear friend. My love and condolences to Thor's family

01-16-2008 3:22 PM -- By: Petrit Selimi,  From: Prishtina, Kosovo  

I met Thor several times in his very last months of say in Kosovo. He worked on media issues at KTA and I was working in the Kosovo media as well so we cooperated. Also, i own a coffeeshop where Thor used to hang out and thats where we did his farewell party in Kosovo. It was a great party, with many guests, loads of fun and all of them sad that Thor was leaving.

My condolences to the family and friends. Such a heartbreaking loss.

01-16-2008 3:17 PM -- By: Allison Burnett Smith,  From: New York, NY  

I worked with Thor in Atlanta for the 1996 Paralympic Games. He always made me laugh. What a great sense of humor he had. My heart goes out to his friends and family. Bless his heart.

01-16-2008 2:49 PM -- By: John Agel,  From: Atlanta, GA  

I was close to Thor when he was but a wee lad. Ok, he wasn't really a wee lad, but a lad none-the-less who was known to scream, "Wheeeeeee!"

It's safe to say I haven't seen Thor in nearly 30 years. It's also safe to say the essence of Thor remained unchanged: compassionate, brilliant and wickedly funny.

The only thing different now, is that I assume he came to learn the charms of the gentler sex. Not that he wasn't interested in girls as a young teenager; it's just that he preferred to get his brain around them before he let his arms get around them.

Before work and college came between us, we spent a great deal of time together when he was in the fun years of early teen-ship. We went to church together, learned to sail, saw "Star Wars" a double digit number of times together, I taught him football, and we co-wrote skits together.

Even as a 13 year-old, he carried an intellect and vocabulary which gave him sophistication with-in his inexperience which was hysterical.

Forever, the two images I have of Thor are of him as baby-faced expressions of the misplaced actor.

The first is of us sailing on Lake Lanier. Thor, with long blond curls blowing astern, hangs over the bow, his nose pointed into the wind. I can imagine at that moment he was one with his Viking ancestors, lost in the dreams of new adventures cresting endless horizons, or at least until we reached the other end of the lake. Suddenly, Thor snaps to attention, point’s starboard and with great alarm screams, "REEEEEEEF!!!!"

Thor is pointing 30 yards at a massive barn sized red sign, lettered REEF in jumbo white letters, which we at the helm had seen a mile earlier... Thanks Thor!

The other image of Thor is of our performing a skit we wrote spoofing the "Ten Commandments" called "Moses and The Hot Bush", which culminated in my bush not being so hot after all, but containing a rod for me to give him so he could give Pharaoh the shaft. I played the burning bush in drag and Thor played Moses. A fine Moses he was! Chubby, blond and blue-eyed. He was brilliant, playing Moses as something between Groucho Marx and Shecky Green. Imagine a slouching baby faced 14 year old Thor, in robes, a Santa beard, coke bottle glasses and a cigar in the corner of his mouth... holy Moses! The first time we performed that bit he did the senior south Florida shuffle onto the stage, I completely fell out of character and just lost it.

Thanks Buddy!

I love you.

01-16-2008 2:45 PM -- By: Catherine Blue,  From: Houston, TX  

I met Thor on the Bradley campaign in 1999, and we kept in touch over the years as I moved around the country and Thor moved around the world. He was always shockingly blunt, but had a great sense of humor to soften the effect. I will miss getting his "I'm in [name of city here] for three days - come join me at [name of bar here] tomorrow night!" emails. It just doesn't seem like this could be true. His family and friends are in my thoughts.

01-16-2008 2:43 PM -- By: Liane Adler,  From: Germany  

I am shocked, sad, upset and still can t believe the news.

Good bye, dear Thor. Make heaven happy as you made those you leave behind.

01-16-2008 2:35 PM -- By: Will Robinson ,  From: Washington, DC  

Like most, I met Thor through his work in politics. Thor was larger than life, a “full personality - with accessories”.

Thor’s ability to connect with people was amazing. He was excellent at motivating - I once saw him give a performance art/pep talk to a young organizer to get him to go back out canvassing and then five minutes later give the exact same speech to get a candidate to go back in “the room” to do more five more hours of call time. Anyone who encountered Thor ended up having a special relationship with him. Whether it was the deli owner next to the campaign office or a person who drove him to the airport.

Thor didn’t experience anything lightly – whether it was caucus night in Iowa or searching for donuts. (There is a story) He had an amazing determination – he stepped up to a challenge like a baseball player facing down a tough pitcher. He was passionate about lot of things, usually all at once. He was most passionate about his family. Thor would sometimes stop in the middle of a long story to mention something his niece had said to him over Christmas, and then go right back to telling the story.

Thor also has something that was exceptional in politics – loyalty. He would do anything for a friend, whether it was moving to some corner of the world to do a campaign or go for days without sleep. And he inspired the same loyalty back from us.

As we all know, Thor could be a man of many many words, but he would much rather tell a colorful story than brag about something he had done.

In politics, real heroes are few and far in between. I’ve been lucky to meet and work with a few of them: John Glenn, Bob Kerrey, Rosa Parks, and John Lewis. Thor was a hero too, not because of how he left us, but because of how he lived his life. Many people talk about freedom and self-determination, but Thor spent most of his adult life making those concepts a reality for a multitude of people here at home and abroad. Thor was a true warrior who made a real difference through hard work and determination, and a little puckish charm. In the last few years he was willing to put himself in harm’s way to practice what a lot of others only preach.

I’m proud to have counted Thor as a friend. His untimely departure has put a hole in our hearts – but I will treasure his memory and friendship for the rest of my life.

01-16-2008 2:23 PM -- By: Joel LeVangia,  From: NY/LA  

I can't help but think of the final moments, as Thor looked at the desperate situation and couldn't help but remark to himself on the bitter irony that he should meet his end in a gym. His sense of humor always won out and I am comforted to think that it held him up even then. I guess it has to be that way when you put your life in the way of the hard and the terrible every day. I was always happy to see the mighty Thor and I will always be happy to have his spirit and memory impose itself on my life. I am better for him and I am not surprised that there are so many of us who feel that way.

01-16-2008 2:06 PM -- By: Kelly Smith,  From: Atlanta (originally)  

Thor was really a friend of my brother, Prescott, but I remember him fondly from back in his Atlanta days.

01-16-2008 2:05 PM -- By: Ben Johnson,  From: New York, NY  

I knew Thor from working on the Bill Bradley campaign in 2000. My heart goes out to his family and loved ones.

01-16-2008 1:59 PM -- By: Margarethe,  From: Austria  

I will never forget the wonderful, funny, cheerful simply perfect moments we shared in Kosovo. United in prayer

01-16-2008 1:56 PM -- By: jack shuler,  From: Washington DC  

Just want to say my prayers are with you. I only met Thor a few times,but I know that he is a great guy I heard only great things about him and his adventures over the years.

Please I know your sorrow will heal only with time;enjoy the memories...enjoy the time. I hope they are very beautiful and wonderful memories and may they give you strength and more love now more than ever.

Remeber,there are many Angels in our lives...they are the ones with the smiles.

Maren and family I wish you love and much strength. Sorry.


01-16-2008 1:45 PM -- By: Elaine Curl,  From: Washington, DC  

I can't imagine how many lives have been touched in a variety of ways by Thor. I first met and worked with him during the 1993 Inaugural. We were all "back of the house" transportation managers with PIC and the Hesla, Pitts, Ballard show provided a never ending stream of reality to a scene that could sometimes resemble a nursery school run amuck. I loved Thors wry sense of humor. He is one of the only people I know, that worked at the top of his game, comitted to whatever project he was engaged in but never lost perspective on the importance of not taking it all too seriously. Thor is a larger than life fellow that will always occupy a piece of my history and for that I am grateful! I'm going to miss Thor. He made a difference by being here on our planet.

01-16-2008 1:28 PM -- By: joanne augustino,  From: gardner, mass  

The last time I saw this beautiful young man was at my daughter Jocelyns home in Washington D.C. He joined us for Easter dinner. We had a wonderful time listening to him talk with that little twinkle in his eyes. He will be missed by all that had the pleasure to know this fine young man.

01-16-2008 1:22 PM -- By: Sally and Tyler Chafee,  From: Denver  

We both had the pleasure of getting to know Thor while working on the Bradley campaign. While our paths haven’t crossed in the last few years, we remember him fondly and our heartfelt thoughts go out to his family and loved ones.

The world is a better place because of Thor. He will be missed.

01-16-2008 1:15 PM -- By: cheryl,  From: atlanta  


01-16-2008 1:15 PM -- By: Lily Trienens,  From: Office of Senator Barack Obama  

I am so sorry to hear of your loss. Mr. Hesla was clearly a wonderful friend to many. I have a letter for friends and family of Mr. Hesla, from Senator Obama. Again, I send my deepest condolences.

01-16-2008 1:14 PM -- By: Mag. Harald Repar,  From: Austria  

Dear family and friends of Thor - I am so sorry in order to have got the information that Thor died in Kabul. I got him known in his function to support the election for the government in Carinthia (Austria) 1999 together with Jeniffer Laszlo. The candidate was Michael Ausserwinkler and I was the managing director of the socialist party in carinthia at that time. He did a great job in the war-room and we had a great time with many nice evenings by consuming food and drinks together. I will miss him.

01-16-2008 12:47 PM -- By: Jason Loviglio,  From: Baltimore  

I met Thor once and liked him immediately. Spent a wonderful day with him and my family and Stephanie at the American Visionary Art Museum.

01-16-2008 12:43 PM -- By: Sean Kennedy,  From: DC  

One of the really good guys. Will miss all the laughs.

01-16-2008 12:41 PM -- By: Rachel Dreyfus,  From: Friend from Emory  

Taegun Moon and I are so proud of Thor for doing work that he believed had meaning and for being so brave. It is so unjust that this act of violence had to happen to a guy like Thor who had so much more to give to the world.

01-16-2008 12:27 PM -- By: Miranda Kobritz Payne,  From: Los Angeles  

Thor was selfless in his desire to connect people and I'm so grateful that I was intertwined in his circle. He was an example professionally and personally. My thoughts and prayers go out to his family.

01-16-2008 12:27 PM -- By: Tom Burgess,  From: Northern VA  

I didn't know Thor, but I have friends that did. I was up for a job in Kabul, but it fell through. I would have been in the hotel. My deepest condolences to his friends and family

01-16-2008 12:26 PM -- By: Miles Anderson,  From: Atlanta  

I went to high school with Thor and he was just one of those guys you had to like, wheather he knew it or not. Looking at the pictures on this website lets me know he carried that trait throughout his life. He has left many friends all over this world mourning his loss and celebraiting his life. I guess every time we here Thunder we can now think of Thor!

01-16-2008 12:15 PM -- By: David Burke,  From:  

I was shocked to hear about this tragic event. We keep losing good people.

01-16-2008 11:59 AM -- By: jennifer meinig,  From: west virginia  

I had the privilege of meeting Thor during a 2002 Congressional race in WV. I never forgot Thor; he remains in my mind one of those people who defy categorization or classification. He will surely be missed.


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