Celebrating life stories...



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

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01-24-2008 6:26 PM -- By: Paul Rohricht,  From: Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania  

Some important life lessons were learned from Thor at the top of the St. Olaf water tower. Thor always had something significant to say. Thor, you will be missed.

01-24-2008 4:16 PM -- By: Anna,  From: Washington Dc  

Thor was my neighbor in my apartment building. I had moved in a few months shortly before he left, but he was always so nice and asked me how I ended up in DC. I would always ask him when he was going overseas... I never realized that he led such an eventful life until I read this memorial...What an inspiration! My thoughts and prayers are with you.

01-24-2008 4:16 PM -- By: Kas Stolzman,  From: New York, NY  

From the brief time that I worked with Thor on the Bradley campaign and his regular emails to the alumni list serve, I could tell that he was committed to good work and good people. His dedication to democracy and building something better will not be forgotten. My deepest condolences to his family.

01-24-2008 3:44 PM -- By: Ray Keating,  From: DC  

I worked with Thor on my first campaign and will never forget the memories. 19 hours sleep in 8 days and I know I got more than he did. You will be missed. Thanks for showing me the ropes and answering all of my stupid questions.

01-24-2008 2:49 PM -- By: scotty greenwood,  From: DC  

I am pretty sure that I was responsible for banning Thor from Georgia during the 92 presidential campaign. We have been friends ever since. What a character. What a loss. What will we do without him?

01-24-2008 12:34 PM -- By: Tim "Hunyak" Hansen,  From: Litchfield, MN  

The world is less beautiful, less philosophical, and much less humorous with this loss. I miss the conversations that I had with Thor that I could not understand a thing he was saying. They were fun and complex. We are all better people for knowing him. Peace be to his memory.

01-23-2008 5:29 PM -- By: Amy Stewart-Rossini,  From: DC  

Marla - My heart and prayers go to you and your family during this difficult time.

Sincerely, Amy

01-23-2008 3:44 PM -- By: Nancie Johnson Petersen,  From: Wayzata, MN  

Thor was a cousin of a dear patient of mine....she sent this web link....I immensely enjoyed the writings of both Thor and his very talented sister. I never knew Thor, but after perusing through this site, I feel as though I did.

01-23-2008 3:35 PM -- By: Bharat Parihar,  From: Worked with Thor in Kabul  


I shall miss you. I often think of your fun, your humour, and the comical grace of your being. Life in Kabul was hardly dull with people like you around. I remember you going out of your way for me, and how much I appreciated that. I shall miss you.

I was delighted to know you– and I really enjoyed interacting with you. I remember well how much you enjoyed your meals, your beer, your wine, the ladies, your ‘ex-wives’, good conversation, the English language. I remember your Liberalism.

I remember most particularly your inimitably jovial company. I remember that ruddy complexion of yours – it hinted at the warmth of your demeanour, your glee, your wit.

Truly, we shall miss you.


01-23-2008 3:28 PM -- By: Jack Hughes,  From: Gainesville, Florida  

The world is a very dull with Thor gone. I've told friends many times how he helped me "steal" a bus during the 1996 Atlanta Paralympic Games when a SNAFU left us without transportation for archers.

01-23-2008 11:52 AM -- By: David Nichols,  From: Bettendorf, IA  

Just read Maren's Eulogy (tears/joy). I wish I remembered more about Thor (former next door neighbor/childhood friend in Mt. Vernon). Every 4/1, I always state to whomever would know, that it's "Thor's Birthday"! Thor and family are in my family's thoughts and prayers! By the way, my youngest daughter is Olivia! Dave.

01-23-2008 2:00 AM -- By: Najibullah Shukoor,  From: Afghanistan  

I would like to express my deepest condolence to the family and friends of Thor David Hesla.

He was our colleague in Afghanistan in the CDP project and his work was really importent for all the CDP components and for the better life of Afghan people.

We will never forget Thor and his devotion and hard work for Afghanistan.

We wiss you Thor!!!


Najibullah Shukoor USAID-CDP Kabul Afghanistan

01-22-2008 10:35 PM -- By: Michael Cotter,  From: Gainesville, Fl  

The loss of a person who lived in great measure and gave in great measure.

01-22-2008 6:16 PM -- By: Becky Lowrey,  From: Morganton, NC  

Many years ago, too many to count, I was a friend of Maren's, and Thor was only her little (though still bigger than me) brother, and we were a part of the St. Bartholomew's gang. With all his amazing accomplishments and the awe-inspiring life he lived - it is hard for me to not erase the cherubic-faced blond kid from my memories. All I can say is "Well Done Thor!" My heart goes out to your sister, her family and your dad.

01-22-2008 3:00 PM -- By: Curtis,  From: Everywhere  

You spend an actual Groundhog Day with someone and you never forget - Punxsutawney or Kenosha (WI- 1st CD) really doesn't matter. I was fortunate to bump into Thor at the Apple store just before he left. It was a terrific hour we spent chatting in the store, while we actually bought stuff too. Thor was ready to go and already looking forward to the likelihood of his position being made "full-time" Appreciate even more that I had the chance to reconnect after what had probably been 3 or 4 years, but his card/address hadn't changed since the last time. Guess we know where we can always find him now! Just look up and listen!!! God Bless him

01-22-2008 1:25 PM -- By: Dave Brooke,  From: Portland, OR  

I had many fun times and beers with Thor, whom I got to know through one of my older brothers, Haynes. Thor was a friend to the entire Brooke family. I always thought of him on April Fool's Day, his birthday.

01-22-2008 1:06 PM -- By: Tim Fairbank ,  From: Washington  

Thor-- We had a great time with you in Kazakhstan (2000). The NDI team shared many good memories with you.

Rest in peace.

-Tim Fairbank

01-22-2008 12:08 PM -- By: Tamara Glickman,  From: Ponce Inlet, FL  

"The old he-coon walks just before the light of day."

You will be missed, old friend.

My sincerest condolences to the family.

Tamara Glickman

01-22-2008 2:43 AM -- By: Joseph Volonakis,  From: Washington, DC  

I work here on the CDP project in Kabul and liaised with Thor on issues pertaining to training the vast number of Afghan government employees who do not have any capabilty with the English language on computer usage. Thor was helpful and made several suggestions and pointed me to local staff with expertise in this area.

His lost is a devastating blow to the project and to our community here in Kabul.

With sincere condolences, Joseph Volonakis

01-22-2008 12:06 AM -- By: Lisa Gans,  From: US/Kabul  

I didn't know Thor personally, but I was in the next room during the attack at the Serena. My heart goes out to his family and friends. Here in Kabul his name and wonderful stories about him are everywhere and I want to reach out to his family to let them know that he seems to have touched people a world away. He won't be forgotten.

EDITOR'S NOTE: Lisa was interviewed on National Public Radio the day after the attack and gave a harrowing tale of her own survival. We wish her well.

01-21-2008 11:46 PM -- By: Wendy (Johnson) Skinner,  From: Minnesota  

Ironically, both Thor and I transferred out of St. Olaf after sophomore year, me after J-term and he after June. Apparently we were two people who had other dreams to follow. Thor was the first guy I dated in college and the last guy I'll ever forget. At 5'10" it didn't matter that I was taller, had more hair, or could get a tan. He ALWAYS made me laugh. From the tidbits I'd heard of Thor's activity as the years passed, as crazy as his life path was, I was envious of his passion, freedom, and ability to touch others lives with his humor and intelligence. Although chances were slim, I'd always hoped our paths would cross again some day. My heartfelt condolences to his family.

01-21-2008 10:02 PM -- By: Zoe Vack,  From: Minnesota  

I'm Thor's cousin, and i haven't seen much of him in recent years, but I remember him so well because he always threw himself into new things and had to be the center of attention. Even when he was just learning to talk he always made you notice him. He loved all the new words he learned, and if he didn't have the meanings quite learned, that certainly didn't stop him. I remember an occasion when our two families were having a picnic together and Thor had a small suitcase filled with his treasures. He kept pulling out his toys one at a time, holding them up to show my father, calling out, "Uncle Milt, ignore this." I'm really sorry that i didn't stay in contact with him better, but I have really liked reading about all the things he did in the past few years. He obviously made a difference in many people's lives and lived his values, an example I can learn from.

01-21-2008 9:43 PM -- By: Steve Crenshaw,  From: Emory days  

Disturbing news to all of us with such great memories of our college years. Sad to think he won't be part of future reunions!

01-21-2008 8:28 PM -- By: Kathy and Elton Waack,  From: Madison, WI  

Cousins of Pam and Doug O'Hara who've heard Thor stories for many years. It's a privilege to visit this memorial in his honor.

01-21-2008 7:25 PM -- By: Pat Ewing ,  From: dc  

I have not been able to find the words to express how I feel about Thor's passing. Here is a poem by John O'Donohue, an Irish writer.

On the death of the Beloved

Though we need to weep your loss, You dwell in that safe place in our hearts, Where no storm or night or pain can reach you.

Your love was like the dawn Brightening over our lives Awakening beneath the dark A further adventure of colour.

The sound of your voice Found for us A new music That brightened everything.

Whatever you enfolded in your gaze Quickened in the joy of its being; You placed smiles like flowers On the altar of the heart. Your mind always sparkled With wonder at things.

Though your days here were brief, Your spirit was live, awake, complete.

. . . .

May you continue to inspire us:

To enter each day with a generous heart. To serve the call of courage and love Until we see your beautiful face again In that land where there is no more separation, Where all tears will be wiped from our mind,

01-21-2008 2:10 PM -- By: J.D.,  From: Atlanta (via UGA)  

I remember Thor from rugby tournaments. Although we played on opposite sides, he was a good guy and a good sportsman. My condolences to the family.

01-21-2008 10:52 AM -- By: Davy Mudd Parrish,  From: Jacksonville, FL  

Thor's tragic death was relayed to me through my son, Shannon Mudd. Meeting him was unforgetable as he was so personable and interested in each person, even a mom of a college friend. His life and the values he lived to make the world a more sane, caring and civil place are a tribute to the worth of a human being.

01-21-2008 10:30 AM -- By: Andy Curl,  From: Atlanta(now live in Dallas)  

Thor and I both grew up at St. Bart's Episcopal Church in Atlanta. I attended the University of Georgia while Thor went to Emory. We had just a passing aquaintence but rugby helped bring us together. I thought Thor to be a bit nerdy, with a great sense of humor. Which he was. But I learned during our rugby matches that he was quite the competitor. He played hooker, which is the position in the middle of the scrum. A strong back and a bit of craziness is required. Thor had both. Thor was equally talented at the rugby parties that followed our matches. He was always good for a pint and a song. The rugby community will miss him.

01-21-2008 9:33 AM -- By: Marya Koss Tenney,  From: Mass.  

I have never met Thor. My brother Matthew attended Vassar with Maren, and with this many degrees of separation I should not really have anything to say. But I do.

When our sister died 11 years ago, I wrote her eulogy and Matthew forwarded it on to Thor. And Thor wrote back a message for me thru Matthew. In short he said that I had done a fine job on the eulogy despite mourning the loss of my sister/editor. But more profoundly he wrote that in spite of my current grief,

"...the world in its terrible wisdom will not cease to turn."

Of course he was right. I have never forgotten those words and repeat them often (sometimes crediting Thor, sometimes letting people assume I could come up with anything that profound...I promise to give him credit always now!)

January seems a cruel month. In addition to the death of my sister and now Thor, this week we mark the anniversary of a fatal stabbing at my daughter's high school. The principal of that school is a fine man trying to cope with the murder of a student on his watch. So while many of you gathered to celebrate Thor's life, I sent the story of Thor and his words of comfort (totally giving him credit!)to this man. He was so moved and grateful for Thor and his words. He wrote me that Thor's words brought him great comfort. So Thor continues to have impact on people and in ways I don't think even he would imagine. What a huge gift he was and what a huge loss.

01-21-2008 7:11 AM -- By: Alessandro De Rienzo,  From: Kabul  

Hi Thor,

Why did you take that direction? Why didn't you stop in that corridor? Or why didn't you step back? I am still asking myself these questions...and most likely I'll never get the answer back...

I will always remember you. And not because my eyes are the last yours crossed on that day. But for your words never spoken invain, your friendly behaviour and your positive thinking. And be sure I will always remember your freesbee you were used to play everywhere in Kosovo, though I was rather interested in football matches...

Your eyes are still impressed in my mind, your last sight, your last movement...

I hope I will forget that day, but I am sure I will never forget you, Thor!




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