Celebrating life stories...



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

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01-15-2008 3:16 PM -- By: Irene Farrelly,  From: Atlanta, DC  

This is horrible news. Thor had the biggest heart and greatest wit. I will miss him and I will even miss The Big Letter.

01-15-2008 3:10 PM -- By: Kate Head,  From: DC, Kosovo, Afghanistan  

I loved Thor. When I broke my ankle in DC he carried me up three flight of stairs on his back to my apartment. Sometimes I carried him too. We carried each other through all kinds of times. It was that way with us. I will miss him every day.

01-15-2008 3:07 PM -- By: Pete,  From: Des Moines  

I, like so many people who will post here can tie so many friendships I now have directly to you.

You used to tell me that you liked the way I could always come up with something to say...sorry brother, but I just can't today.

01-15-2008 2:59 PM -- By: Jim Dau,  From: Washington, DC  

I can't process the sad part now -- it just hasn't sunk in. I understand and apologize in advance if anyone isn't ready to laugh yet.

I had the profound pleasure of traveling with Thor to Venezuela for political party training. He gave good advice on how to win campaigns and great advice on how to lose them.

His wit shone through the language barrier to the point that trainees would ask about him long after his work there. He also made an impression by giving his name to a terrible form of a common travel stomach affliction -- used as in "I have the Thors" or "I got Thorred".

I have been lucky enough to know many very smart people and also fewer very funny people. Thor was one of the rare few that offered his friends both. What a gift.

01-15-2008 2:50 PM -- By: Jennifer Laszlo MIzrahi,  From: friend from college and campaigns  

Thor Hesla was a passionate believer in what is possible in the world - someone who loved great adventures and found no adventure greater than helping people.

I met Thor when I was a freshman at Emory. He was an older member of the super-cool Emory Rugby team and rode a motorcycle. He was very into English literature and saving the world. He went on to play a major role in planning for the Para Olympics and worked on many democratic campaigns. He worked with me at my previous company, Laszlo & Associates, Inc. for years. He worked in winning campaigns in Trinidad, Venezuela, St. Vincent, Antigua, Barbados, Aruba , Austria and other nations. In every campagin he was working for the party that was working to help poor people against entrenched incumbents who were corrupt. He was always for the little guy. We won almost every race and as a result a lot of crime, corruption was stopped - and jobs and better education were created. Thor was SO talented - and so much fun! He was also one of the most honest and decent people I ever met.

Following campaigns Thor worked as a consultant to help bring Kosovo to a better place - spending a LOT of time there. From there he went to Kabul to help make Afghanistan a better place - a theme in his life.

Thor was my friend and hero. He died yesterday far, far too early in life!

Thor's family - his sister Maren and brother in law Bernard Craighead are prominent Democratic consultants and people he really admired. His father is a famous professor at Emory in Atlanta. They were EXTREMELY close. Thor was also a dotting uncle...loved Olivia and David very much, spoke of them often. I know that Thor will be really missed by many, many people who loved to get his "big letters" and to live vicariously through his ability to make a possitive difference in the world.

Jennifer Laszlo Mizrahi

01-15-2008 2:49 PM -- By: Theresa Pirkl,  From:  

Thor, the man with the greatest heart I have ever had to chance to meet. Thank you for your smile, your wit and all your Thor-ganising. Kosovo would have been miserable without you.

01-15-2008 2:46 PM -- By: Shery Williams,  From: Seattle WA  

Wow! this is very sad news. I have not seen or talked with Thor for many years but have kept up with his travels and work adventures throught our good friend Michael Pitts. This is very sad time for all of us. I have known Thor since 1988 working with him at the 1990 Goodwill Games in Seattle. Peace to Thor..

01-15-2008 2:45 PM -- By: Justin-M R,  From:  

I miss you Thor.

01-15-2008 2:30 PM -- By: wendy swart grossman,  From: London  

I met Thor when I was 17 - our first week at St. Olaf. He brought a piano up to my dorm room to serenade me on my birthday. We crossed pathes for the next 25+ years through politics and friendship. A huge hole has been ripped into the fabric of my soul. I can only imagine what it must be like for Maren and Bernard and the kids. Thor, you were a man who was loved. Wendy

01-15-2008 2:19 PM -- By: William & Teri Campbell,  From: Pristina, Kosovo  

He was a good man and he was already missed in Kosovo. He brought smiles to all who knew him here in Kosovo. May God grant him and his family and friends peace.

01-15-2008 2:15 PM -- By: Betty,  From: Atlanta, GA  

Dear Friends, The family has requested that any donations you may wish to make be made to Doctors Without Borders. The link to donate is: doctorswithoutborders.org/donate/ Thank you!

01-15-2008 2:10 PM -- By: Carole Florman,  From: Washington, DC  

Thor and I had reconnected last summer after not seeing each other for several years. In our last email exchanges he joked about the better quality of life available on a drilling platform in the middle of the North Sea to Kabul. I will always remember his wicked (and sometimes inappropriate) sense of humor, his huge heart and his passionate embrace of life. I will miss him.

01-15-2008 2:08 PM -- By: Karyn Davidman,  From: Glencoe, IL  

Oh, Thor, I am so so very sad. After the tears and anger when I heard yesterday, I started remembering you and how you made me laugh till I cried those last weeks of the Gash campaign in 2000, you pounding your head till it hurt, carrying you off to dinner so you didn't go after one of the "moms". You really wanted to make the world a better place- and you did SO much to that end. I will remember you always - with laughter, affection and tears. Karyn

01-15-2008 2:06 PM -- By: Terry Sabonis-Helf,  From: Washington DC  

Thor was one of those people in college who were larger than life: enamored of his own myth, but just crazy enough that he deserved the myth, too. He was one of those folks who taught me to love the stories, and the people who tell them well.

01-15-2008 1:45 PM -- By: Genelle Buchert,  From: Southern Cali  

The world just became a less interesting place without Papa Bear. Can't believe it. Thor you will live on in my heart...Genelle

01-15-2008 1:28 PM -- By: Suzy Kilgo,  From: Atlanta  

I loved him.

01-15-2008 1:26 PM -- By: Kate Pearson,  From: from Miami  

I heard from Thor last on December 25, Christmas. He said Christmas in Kabul was "a bummer." I cannot believe I won't ever see him again. Thor was affectionately known as "Ol' Pepperhead" from a funny incident during our Emory days. In fact all of the incidents in my life involving Thor were funny; I have many photos I am going to sift through and help post here, just as I assume the thousands of friends he collected throughout his life do. I think of the Samoan Fog Cutter parties, the rugby, the countless pitchers of beer, the Big Letters, the teasing, goading, arguing, twinkly eyed guy we love. I had a St. Olaf sweatshirt of his for ages until it fell apart. One time he took a dare of mine to drink a concoction of ketchup, mustard, beer, worcestshire sauce and God knows what else that was on the table, in exchange for me being nice to him no matter what he did for the next week. I am sad my son never got to meet him after hearing the stories. I'm furious about this incident and saddened and indignant. I want Thor back and I want him to never have gone to Kabul in the first place. But if he hadn't have gone he wouldn't have been Thor. Maddening and endearing; larger than life and now, tragically, out of this Earthly life. Thor - I hope that where you are, there are pretty women, intellectually stimulating conversations, good beer, and time for you to write your books. You are missed. Krakatoo!

01-15-2008 1:26 PM -- By: Allison Dobson,  From: Washington, DC  

This is truly devastating news. Thor was truly one-of-a-kind and will be sincerely missed.

01-15-2008 1:18 PM -- By: lauren sucher,  From: washington, dc  

I met Thor After the Bradley campaign ended (he was Iowa, I was NH), then we worked together in WV in 2002. From him I learned much, with him I laughed much, and I am lucky to have known and spent time with such a sharp, fun, committed person.

01-15-2008 1:06 PM -- By: Lauren Beth Gash,  From: Highland Park, IL  

Many of us remember Thor with fondness and are so, so sad. We learned of his passing during a meeting yesterday. We weren't sure what to do at first, and then someone pointed out that Thor would want us to continue the meeting with even more resolve (it was a Democratic strategy meeting). And they were right. Thor managed my 2000 campaign for Congress (coming in in the summer before the Nov. election), in which we overcame difficult circumstances to get to 49% -- not enough to win -- but close! Couldn't have gotten anywhere near that close without him. We'll miss the Big Letters, Thor's humor, and his REAL drive to make the world a better place. It certainly has been because of him. Many of us, who get together regularly, will continue repeating his "Thorisms" -- those regular sayings of his that always rang true, fit perfectly and succinctly, and were so Thor Hesla.

Lauren Beth Gash

01-15-2008 1:01 PM -- By: Stacie Spector,  From:  

My thoughts and prayers are with Maren and family.

Way too young and vibrant to have been taken...

I am so sorry...

01-15-2008 12:56 PM -- By: Melanie,  From: CO  

What a brave person and a sad day. We will all mourn the loss of Thor.

01-15-2008 12:49 PM -- By: Jeff Eller,  From: Austin, TX  

A force of nature, chock full of fun and always ready for the unexpected. Fort Wayne Indiana became Fort Fun when Thor arrived to do GOTV in 1989 for Jill Long.

Jill won and the Thor legend continued.

My heart and prayers to Maren and Bernard.

01-15-2008 12:45 PM -- By: Glenn Kurtz,  From: Atlatna  

I miss you already.

01-15-2008 12:38 PM -- By: Andy Bechhoefer,  From:  

Thor was always such a wonderful, unique presence, whereever he was. There are not a lot of people that do what we do (in politics) for all the right reasons. I think I got to know Thor really well when he was doing the Wu campaign, figuring out creative ways to get a guy elected that no one really thought had a chance. Thor will be missed dearly.

01-15-2008 12:38 PM -- By: Mike Diehl,  From: Bethesda, Maryland  

I am so sorry to learn of Thor's passing. I was only at the periphery of Thor's circle of friends back in college, but everyone including me admired his spirit, commitment, and sense of fun. A fond memory from 1985 or so is the time that Thor attended the wedding of John Oliver and Cindy Grieves wearing blue jeans. When an older guest made a somewhat disapproving comment, another one shot back that Thor had traveled over a thousand miles to be there -- on a motorcycle!

01-15-2008 12:33 PM -- By: Marc Mitchell,  From: Redondo Beach  

I had known Thor since we worked together on the Bradley Presidential Campaign in 2000. When I was working for Paul Wellstone, he was part of that small core group that came to our rescue in MN a few days after the plane crash in October of 2002. Not only did he help us with the logistics of the Memorial Service, but so many other things that we needed in that time of crisis. I will remember him as a man who's deed followed his word. I will also remember him as a man who could think quicker on his feet than anyone, a man who never looked to get credit for all of his good deeds, & and a man who always was looking to make the world a better place. You will be missed, Thor. Your spirit will always be with us; see you on the other side brother.

01-15-2008 12:21 PM -- By: Dan Bodner,  From: San Francisco  

Shocking and horrible. Thor was unique, affable, outspoken, and that rare person who was always true to himself and his ideals.

01-15-2008 12:08 PM -- By: Don Millar,  From:  

Here was a person who lived a life fuller than most -- someone who did what he beleived in. I am so sorry for this and so sad thinking about Maren and the family. Please know he is someone who made a difference in this world.

01-15-2008 12:03 PM -- By: Steve Ayscue,  From: New Jersey  

What a tragic series of events. Very sad.


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