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

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01-15-2008 11:59 AM -- By: Alyssa Ziegler Apple,  From: NY, NY  

Thor was a smart, kind man whose humor, support and encouragement, especially in Iowa during the Bradley campaign, will always be remembered.

01-15-2008 11:52 AM -- By: Karen Feather,  From: Washington, DC  

Thor saved my sanity when he joined our 2002 campaign late in the process. He kept a good sense of perspective and never forgot that politics is about people. I will miss his Big Letters and his inimitable sense of humor.

01-15-2008 11:49 AM -- By: Betty,  From: Atlanta, GA  

A memorial service will be held for our dear friend, son and brother Thor David Hesla Thursday, January 17, 2008 3:00 PM St. Bartholomew's Espiscopal Church 1790 Lavista Road, NE Atlanta, Georgia 30329 A reception will follow the memorial service at the church. Details on where contributions can be made in lieu of flowers are forthcoming.

01-15-2008 11:41 AM -- By: Amy Pritchard,  From: DC  

Thor has been a friend for over 15 years - though many campaigns and progressive battles. I have so many fun and funny memories of him in so many places across this country. Some of my favorite memories of Thor go back to the Peter Barca special election in Kenosha Wisconsin in 1993 - aka the origional ground hog day campaign with our never ending recount. Thor never forgot over these many years to email me every February 2 to relive our fond memories. We shared many others as well - but that was our special bond. He will be missed forever.

He will be sorely missed. Love Amy

01-15-2008 11:39 AM -- By: Andrew Kennedy,  From: Washington DC  

I worked on a number of races with Thor. Some of them won big, and some failed miserably. Ironically, I thought Thor's genius shone the most in the losing races. He remained relentlessly upbeat with a new spin on the most glum of circumstances.

His sense of humor, combined with a superb command of the english language, was unmatched. His screed against Ann Coulter's dating habits -- written, I think in Slate, as a response to Coulter's George magazine article about Washington men-- remains some of the most humorous prose ever.

I'm really sorry I won't have a chance to cross paths with him again. A great Democrat. A great American.

01-15-2008 11:19 AM -- By: Mark Warren,  From: NJ  

I met Thor in Des Moines Iowa during the Bradley campaign. We became friendly when I managed the Wu race the cycle after Thor. He was very generous and gave me great advice. Thor was a true force. This is so sad.

01-15-2008 11:15 AM -- By: Norm Sterzenbach,  From: Iowa  

If it had not been for Thor dragging me out to WV in 2002 I never would have met my wonderful wife Danielle. I will always be greatful for that.

01-15-2008 11:13 AM -- By: Bronwen Clark,  From: DC  

Thor was always a force, a presence and a damn good guy. Dedicated to making a difference and having a good time doing it ... He will be missed.

01-15-2008 11:12 AM -- By: Danielle Sterzenbach,  From: Des Moines, IA  

I met Thor in Charleston West Virginia when he came out to run the Field Department on Jim Humphreys campaign in 2002.

And thanks to Thor I met my husband, Norm Sterzenbach, when he brought him & Pete D'Alessandro out to help on the race. Thanks will never be enough.

01-15-2008 10:58 AM -- By: Gail Warrander ,  From: Kosovo (originally the UK)  

I met Thor on his first eve in Kosovo.

I knew David Black and the other Gail - known as "good Gail". For those that don't know me I am the corporate lawyer, evil Gail, also "superhuman" , multi-lingual, workaholic Gail. Thor used to say you get a lot for your money (I am quite small).

Thor and I ended up working (at KTA, scheming and privatising ), partying, skiing and holidaying together for 3 and 2/3 years in Kosovo and beyond. That's me, the ex-wives club as they were known and the motley Kosovo crew who are now scattered across the globe. We lived through power cuts, riots, Kosovo economic stagnation, stupifying bureaucracy, bad driving and Balkan stubborness as well as great hospitality (Thor did a lot of teaching of that).

He was at the first Ultimate game, looked after all the newcomers and kept the Ulti spirit going. If we play tomorrow (Weds) it will be in his honor.

Thor also re-designed the traffic system here (partially implemented) - in fact amongst us we re-designed most things.

Thor was not just a PR convincing person, he was insightful, he was unusually a do-er, positive always and able to see the big picture of where Kosovo was going (or wasn't going). The newly elected Minister of Finance here wanted Thor to come back and work with him in PR and planning and contacted him just a few days ago.

While I wish he had stayed here (or come back sooner), Thor wanted to go to Afghanistan. He wanted to fill the gaps in his knowledge - to understand why the US intervened and how well they did or were doing and the background to the conflict.

Development work teaches you a lot about people - about deep lying ethnic hatreds, revenge, about the simple shop workers, the need for security and it teaches you a lot about yourself and what you value. You take things for granted in a developed country. I know Thor learnt a lot. I have however learnt a much more bitter life lesson. The heartbreak of losing such a close friend. Life is short and we should all live life to the full like him.

Thor would want us to make the most of things. We are looking at setting up a scholarship/prize for journalism, press, PR or films in Kosovo - fund raising at the Friday 18 memorial service here in Pristina. We will keep you posted. We meet tonight with gin and tonic, red wine and cheese in his memory to "Thorganise" (as we call it) the fund raising and how the funds can be put to good use.

01-15-2008 10:49 AM -- By: Rebecca Cooper,  From: Washington DC  

Journalists on the Bradley Campaign bus always enjoyed Thor's smile and good cheer. I've been reading his letters and writings and was especially struck by his passage in one of his letters saying how fortunate we are -- compared to the Afghans -- to not know war. Thor, his family and friends have all now paid too high a price for knowing war. I will try to always remember what he said in his letters about remembering how lucky those of us are who don't have to live in that world on a daily basis. All the best to all of you who lost someone so dear. Rebecca Cooper, ABC 7 News, Washington

01-15-2008 10:38 AM -- By: Diane Feldman,  From:  

This is so horribly sad and tragic it is hard to know what to say. We will miss you forever, and also will redicicate as you would have to "fighting like hell for the living."

01-15-2008 10:37 AM -- By: Mia Phifer,  From: Chicago, IL  

I met Thor in August of 2000 when he stormed into the Gash campaign where he immediately changed the entire vibe of the campaign with in minutes...he was moving furniture, putting his "office" (a card table and a phone) right out in the open in the middle of the room...writing my finance plan! Yes, at first I was a bit stunned then came to my senses and politley thanked him and handed it back - which made him smile...and he went on to harrass the press department... When Thor got to the campaign it was like someone opened the windows and the sun was shining for the first time in 9 months! He stayed in a donors house on the top floor, where apparently they had not turned the heat on! So he just bought more sweatshirts as he didn't want to complain...it just meant that we all stayed out later and got to the office earlier! I learned so much about managing campaigns from Thor - I literally was quoting him just the other day to a new campaign manager trying to impart much of Thor's positive insight! I've also share the Ann Coulter article and the story of how it made it into Salon quite often and am happy to have it in my electronic files. I was so very glad to get the Big Letter this year and he and I recently emailed a little right after he got to Kabul. I am so very sad for Thor's family - and so very grateful for this memorial site to share our thoughts...I toasted to Thor last night noting to my friends that this is exactly what he'd want all of us to do... Thor, we miss you, love you and are better for having experienced you!

01-15-2008 10:34 AM -- By: Ashlie Green Bucy,  From: NC  

To one of the most welcoming and encouraging people I have ever had the privilege of working with... Thor, you epitomize service (both to a cause and to others). Know that you will be truly missed. Always, Ashlie (aka. Tigger, the nickname you gave me in 2000)

01-15-2008 10:27 AM -- By: kristen ludecke,  From: washington dc  

Such a larger than life person who made a lasting impression even in very brief encounters - really very sad news.

01-15-2008 9:24 AM -- By: Betty Anderson Dworschak,  From: Atlanta, GA  

I have known and loved Thor since his sister Maren and I became friends at Briarclif High School. We had a deal we sealed way back then: if Thor and I were both single when he was 55 we would get married.

Thor was damned funny, most recently giddily celebrating Senator Clinton's unexpected win over Senator Obama in the New Hampshire primaries. Thor emailed his typically insightful and typically scathing commentary which he entitled "The Audacity of Nope."

But Thor was also an incredibly nice, decent guy. It was sometimes hard to see his kindness since he wore his ascerbic wit like a flamboyant cloak of honor, swinging and slinging it freely as he entered every room, ignoring the disapproving stares of the few who found his razor-sharp and lightning-quick barbs a bit over the top. But Thor was kind, grieving with me when my dad died, talking to my children and giving them their nicknames Mad Dog and Wild Thing, and sharing his life with me and so many others.

Thor followed his ideals more than most of us; his passions took him all over the world, including a three-year stint in Kosovo before his recent move to Afghanistan. Thor made friends everywhere he went and - God bless him - he maintained those friendships. He would call whenever he was in town and we would meet either at Manuel's Tavern (ah, youth) or more recently, at Evan's Fine Foods. My parting words to Thor as we hugged after brunch at the Hickory House a few months ago were, "Take care, Thor. Don't get yourself blown up over there."

Thor, you were the little brother I never had and the amazing friend I am glad to have known. I will miss you, your insight, and your light more than mere words can say.

01-15-2008 9:06 AM -- By: Andy Rivera,  From: NYC Da Bronx  

As I hold my 17 month old daughter in the comfort of my kitchen, my thoughts are with Thor. He made a tremendous sacrifice on the behalf of humanity. He will always be an example for my family.

I could become very pithy in my remarks and tell you how I really feel. I will save that for when we get together, drink and spill beer in his honor.

Andy Rivera aka Caveman Lawyer

01-15-2008 9:05 AM -- By: Tom Dworschak,  From: Atlanta GA  

Thor -- God of Thunder -- Always Has Been, Always Will Be

01-15-2008 8:37 AM -- By: Nancy and Peter von Euler,  From: CT  

This is very sad news - so hard to believe. We send our love to all of Thor's family.

01-15-2008 8:37 AM -- By: Rev. Regena Thomas,  From: Hamilton, NJ  

Bernard's brother in law; the funny, funny guy. I am glad we have the memories that allow us to keep Thor amongst us forever.

01-15-2008 8:33 AM -- By: Megan Browne Gloede,  From: roswell, GA  

Thor was unbelievably kind. I know he was know for his acerbic wit and his bawdy humor, but in reality, it is it Thor’s kindness that stands out.

01-15-2008 7:17 AM -- By: Richard Dickerson,  From: Birmingham, Alabama  

Thor, My brother, my friend I will miss you mightily thanks for so many wonderful memories. Richard aka skinny black man

01-15-2008 7:01 AM -- By: Heather Booth,  From: Washington, DC  

There was almost always a joke or an energetic optimistic good spirited remark--sometimes laced with a sharp (even critical) insight, and a reference to the latest campaign, commitment and adventure--where he elected some Democratic champion or advanced a democratic organization at home or around the world.

It is still so hard to believe what happened. And we still hold you in our hearts.


01-15-2008 6:59 AM -- By: Martin Hamburger, Molly Reilly,  From: DC  

Thor was in full flower at his going away party at Maren and Bernard's. As was his way, he left no guest un-charmed, even spending a little one on one time with our daughter Eliza. We all enjoyed hanging with him so much that evening, I'm so glad we had that chance. He was so gifted and generous. We send all our love to the family.

01-15-2008 5:13 AM -- By: Inga Smulkstys,  From:  

I could go on for days about how wonderful Thor is - his quick wit, intelligence, kindness but its just too sad right now. I will truely miss him and can only imagine how sad this is for Maren, Bernard, the kids and David.

01-15-2008 5:10 AM -- By: Tim Dickson,  From:  

We are deeply saddened to hear of this unspeakable tragedy. Thor was just in our office, meeting some of the folks that work with me just before he left, and was in “full Thor” entertainment mode. He delighted us then as he often did. Please know your are in our thoughts and prayers


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