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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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01-18-2008 7:29 PM -- By: Jane Moser,  From: St. Bart's, Atlanta  

What wonderful memories you have left your friends and your family! Truly you embraced life! The sadness that all feel at your death is both a sadness of losing you, who worked for freedom and peace, and the sadness at the violence that took your life.

01-18-2008 6:53 PM -- By: Pete D'Alessandro,  From: Des Moines  

Thor: Hey, I wrote a few days back that I couldn't come up with anything but I would like to try now. I mean you earned that and to be honest it is kind of therapeutic. I figured since you knew as well as anyone that I am a field rat you would forgive me for any and all of the errors in grammar and for being disjointed.

Maybe it was fate but the song in my CD player after I heard the news the other day started with these words: “My Lord, I have read this book so many times, But nowhere can, can I find the page that says what I experienced today has any grace." That pretty much sums this mess up for me.

You left us all with so many great stories butfor some reason I keep having just the punch lines run through my head. "Go. Fight. Win." "Let's roll!"

"The Pearly Gates...There gone!"

"I can't be sure but I think this may call for mandatory death midgets"

"If we do not have another beer the terrorists will have won. I for one do not want that hanging over me!"

And my favorite: "People do not worry -in an operation this size we are bound to lose a vehicle or two!"

Dude, you where the guy Teddy Roosevelt was thinking of when he talked of the "Man in the Arena" You knew the great devotions and you never stopped looking for them.

You were one of the half dozen people one meets in life that can see you after a few years time and pick up like you have been talking every day:

Remember when I get dispatched east after Iowa in 2000? You stayed behind to finish up the logistics. You called me on my cell TH: Where are your rental keys? PD: In my top drawer. TH: Where is the car? PD Are you at my desk? TH: Yes. PD: Look out the Window. TH: Very good. Go. Fight. Win.

My next conversation with you was almost 2 years later. TH: You doing anything? PD: No TH: I am in West Virginia. You are needed. Bring Norm. By the way I have worked operations on everything from Olympics to the Inaugural. Your rental in Iowa was one the most disgusting things I have ever seen. Can you be here Friday? PD: Saturday. TH: See you then.

Well, I have gone on to long but I did want to let you know that the fact you were able to squeeze my friendship into that full plate that was your life was an Honor and a Privilege. More importantly, it was a Joy.

Godspeed Brother,

Pete

P.S. For the record I offered to clean that Car before leaving.


01-18-2008 6:39 PM -- By: Karen White,  From: Annapolis, MD  

I will always remember Thor's larger than life presence. He always made me laugh - and also made me think. Thor was a writer - and i so looked forward to his BIG letters and emails; it allowed me to live vicariously through Thor and all the good work he did around the globe.

I first met Thor at the DNC Convention and then again at the Innagural when he was working for PIC - he actually gave me a car to "borrow" to drive to Montauk - it was a really nice car - Lincoln Continental - he told me it was always better to enjoy the "larger" things in life when we could.

Thor was a gem - one of a kind - like no other i have ever met. There is something about working with someone on a campaign - you become just like family after the experience and Thor had such a large family. He brought so many of us together, in so many ways.

When I met Maren (long after knowing Thor for years), the first thing she said to me was "before you ask, I'm the good Hesla, so don't judge me before you get to know me." Now Maren will have to carry the Hesla mantle on her own - the jokes, the letters, the wit and humor, etc. She will have to be the Good Hesla AND the Bad Hesla all in one - that is one heavy load!

My prayers are with you, Maren, my dear friend. And you too - Bernard, Olivia and David.

Godspeed Thor - give them hell up there. I know you are organizing something already, and am a better person for having known you. Thank you family for giving Thor to me, to us all. He will be missed everyday.

Love, Karen

01-18-2008 6:38 PM -- By: Gerri Pine,  From:  

Just to let you know all the Pines are thinking about the Heslas......it is amazing how much the picture of Thor resembles what I remember of you , David. So wonderful to talk to you Maren, and you David....... there are no words to make this any better.......I made a little tribute in Thor's memory...... Fondly.....gerri pine

01-18-2008 6:36 PM -- By: Karen White,  From: Annapolis, MD  

I will always remember Thor's larger than life presence. He always made me laugh - and also made me think. Thor was a writer - and i so looked forward to his BIG letters and emails; it allowed me to live vicariously through Thor and all the good work he did around the globe.

I first met Thor at the DNC Convention and then again at the Innagural when he was working for PIC - he actually gave me a car to "borrow" to drive to Montauk - it was a really nice car - Lincoln Continental - he told me it was always better to enjoy the "larger" things in life when we could.

Thor was a gem - one of a kind - like no other i have ever met. There is something about working with someone on a campaign - you become just like family after the experience and Thor had such a large family. He brought so many of us together, in so many ways.

When I met Maren (long after knowing Thor for years), the first thing she said to me was "before you ask, I'm the good Hesla, so don't judge me before you get to know me." Now Maren will have to carry the Hesla mantle on her own - the jokes, the letters, the wit and humor, etc. She will have to be the Good Hesla AND the Bad Hesla all in one - that is one heavy load!

My prayers are with you, Maren, my dear friend. And you too - Bernard, Olivia and David.

Godspeed Thor - give them hell up there. I know you are organizing something already, and am a better person for having known you. Thank you family for giving Thor to me, to us all. He will be missed everyday.

Love, Karen

01-18-2008 6:30 PM -- By: Steve Daniel,  From: Minneapolis  

I first met Thor when he was 7 and I was a graduate student working with his father. I am in admiration of his accomplishments and the imagination and courage that they took.

01-18-2008 5:13 PM -- By: Carol Meyer,  From: Atlanta  

Didn't know Thor, but knew of Stephanie's respect and love for him. We know that he accomplished more in his 45 years than some do in a lifetime. Seems he lived life to the fullest and we know his spirit will live on in everyone's heart forever. THE MEYER FAMILY

01-18-2008 4:39 PM -- By: Lori Dana,  From: Chicago, IL  

In the 60's my father and Thor's father David taught together at Cornell College in Mount Vernon, Iowa. Thor and his sister Marin were playmates who frequently spent time at our house. My father still stays in touch with David Hesla and he emailed my brother, sister and me this week to tell us what happened to Thor. As I searched for information on the Internet, I was surprised to find that although I haven't seen him for more than 30 years, I recognized his smile immediately as the same one that was always on the face of the precocious boy who spent many hours with us as small children. And as I read the recollections of his adult friends, I realize that the charming and boisterous boy I knew so long ago grew into a man with the same charm, humor and "get it done" attitude. We are so sorry for your loss.

01-18-2008 4:30 PM -- By: Sherwin Das,  From: Riga, Latvia  

My deepest, most heartfelt condolences go out to Thor's family. Thank you for giving him to us.

Read Sherwin's poem to Thor - "BIG" - on the "Reminiscences by Friends" page.

01-18-2008 4:02 PM -- By: Mike Bauman,  From: Marshfield Wisconsin  

I new and played Rugby with Thor at St. Olaf. As I remember Thor saw his first snow while driving a motorhome across Iowa on our way to a tournement in New Orleans. He promptly put the motorhome in the ditch! Great guy, sorry to hear of the tragedy.

01-18-2008 3:39 PM -- By: Nancy Pevey,  From: Atlanta  

It felt like Thor was back with us for a little while yesterday. Maren, thank you for your wonderful eulogy.

01-18-2008 3:11 PM -- By: Adria,  From: California  

I met Thor when I arrived in Kosovo in fall 2006 and only knew him briefly, as he left Pristina in December. Every time I saw Thor, he was laughing. I don't remember meeting someone so cheerful before, and so hiliariously funny. Though I didn't know Thor well, I feel sad and shocked by his death. He was a wonderful man with so much to give. My heart goes out to his family and friends.

01-18-2008 3:03 PM -- By: Vijay Mehrotra,  From: San Francisco  

I never knew Thor although we overlapped at college for two years. But in reading this site, recommended to me by a mutual friend, I am deeply saddened. I feel like I've lost a brother. Thanks, Thor, for all that you did to be such a unique and positive person. You leave a huge hole, for there are not enough like you.

01-18-2008 3:00 PM -- By: Ron Mancini,  From: Washington, DC  

All of us have had at least one person in our lives that we would call a "character." Thor was definitely a character. There will only be one Cher, one Charo, one Bono and one Thor ( a natural progression, right?)I am sure anybody who has not met him (Is there anybody out there who hasn't met him?)might ask "Was this guy for real?" or "Was that really his name?" We will all miss that ruddy face, the thin yellow hair, that smirk and the great big bear-hug of man that was Thor. Mostly, we will miss bumping into someone else that we knew and not being able to ask, "What is Thor up to now?" because there was always an interesting story that followed. Whatever he is up to now, Thor is definitely ruffling a few feathers. I am sure that there are a few angels up in Heaven with exasperated looks on their faces. But they all will have a great story to tell. Thank you for all that you gave us, Thor.

01-18-2008 2:40 PM -- By: Kreso Gotovac,  From: Toronto, Canada  

Met Thor in Prishtina, Kosovo 4years ago.. what an incredible person. Someone so positive, and full of LIFE. Not once was he ever negative or even heard of him being negative.. Thor you are in my prayers....

01-18-2008 2:39 PM -- By: VICTOR ESTEBAN,  From:  

Thor,

Thanks for having lived creating a better life and hope for many people, all over the world.

Your soul keeps working.

Good job.

With love and respect.

01-18-2008 2:35 PM -- By: Gavin Bradley,  From: Atlanta  

Thor - Cat's entry on the column at left is far more eloquent than I would ever hope to be, however I suppose you should know you've made her cry again. And while the first time was probably somewhat warranted, this has taken things too far. In fact, you’ve made us all cry.

We raised a few for you last night, the stories were almost enough to make us feel better. I thank you for leading me to my wife, as accidental as that might have been. Rest easy my friend. S/F - Gavin


01-18-2008 1:35 PM -- By: Stewdog,  From:  

Bruce Lund Stewdog St.Olaf RFC

01-18-2008 12:44 PM -- By: Glenn Nye,  From: Virginia  

Thor was Mr. Ultimate Frisbee and the linchpin of sport/social activity for so many of us in Prishtina. I hope he knows how much he meant to so many people.

01-18-2008 12:25 PM -- By: Deanna and Ben Courtright,  From: Houston, TX  

Our Condolences. We didn't know Thor, but my father was friends with the family from St. Barts.

01-18-2008 11:41 AM -- By: dominic rooney,  From: Ireland  

I Knew Thor for Kosovo

Its so Sad .......

Thor Rest in peace


01-18-2008 11:01 AM -- By: Susan Pukall,  From: St. Olaf '84  

What incredibly sad news. What impressive work Thor was doing. He seems to have lived life to the fullest, which is perhaps some small consolation. My deepest condolences to his family and friends.

01-18-2008 10:46 AM -- By: Robin Hutchinson,  From: Atlanta  

Many thanks to Maren for her brilliant eulogy at the Atlanta memorial service. You captured so well the Thor we knew, sharp edges and all, and told us so much we didn't know. If a eulogy can inspire the mourners to change how they live their lives, that one will. (I think my family has seen a difference in me already.) Thank you.

01-18-2008 10:12 AM -- By: Sian Llewellyn,  From: London, via San Francisco and Atlanta  

I cannot tell you how dislocating this all is. I sent Shannon a response to his email from Tuesday saying "are you sure? this really sounds like a story he might say about himself." I can just see it written in those yearly update letters along with a description of the executive club room amenities or lack thereof at the Kabul International Airport.

My memories of Thor are always funny stories mixed with annoyance when I spent to much time with him! I remember standing in a corner at Leigh Finlayson's annual margarita party with him--laughing hysterically at the stories about his love life. I really loved those yearly update letters and always wrote him immediatly after just becasue I wanted to read more.

Of all the places for him to get killed -- a five star hotel has a certain Thor-ness about it. I guess becasue he was frequently in scary places and the whole climbing accident incident, I kind of thought he was invincible - wouldn't he love that.

01-18-2008 10:07 AM -- By: Josh Kardon,  From: Portland, Oregon  

I got to know Thor in 1998 when he was running the House campaign for a quirky, first-time candidate named David Wu. Back then, David, who is now a congressman, was a handful in ways that could shock and demoralize even the most grizzled campaign manager. Thor somehow got his candidate focused and under control for long enough periods to win a very tough race. It was an astonishing feat.

A number of us in the Oregon Democratic political community knew a lot about the hell Thor was enduring in 1998, but he never once dished the dirt on his candidate, despite our repeated invitations. He would only say, perhaps a few thousand times to us that year, "I'm in the weeds." He said it so often that every time we heard it from him we would tell each other that we heard from Thor and he is "still in the weeds." For some reason we thought this was hilarious, and to this day, whenever we hear that term, we think of Thor.

He was an amazingly sweet, good-natured guy (especially for a political pro in a very trying race) who did our state a great service. That quirky, challenging candidate he got over the top went on to become a very popular congressman who has served his district, state, and nation, extremely well.

We in Oregon were deeply saddened to hear of Thor's death, and join with his family and friends in honoring this wonderful person.

Josh Kardon Chief of Staff U.S. Senator Ron Wyden

01-18-2008 9:49 AM -- By: Ellen Seals,  From: Austin, Texas  

Thor stayed at our house while he worked on Lulu Flores' campaign here in Austin. My kids were young then and couldn't understand why there was visitor in the house, but they never say him. To them, Thor was a man of mystery. There was always a bowl of fruit on the dining room table. He appreciated it being there, because he was able to get something healthy to eat during those hectic days. When he left, he gave me a beautiful fruit bowl which sits on our table to this day. Our thoughts and prayers are with Thor's family. Paul, Ellen, Anna and Mary Seals

01-18-2008 8:57 AM -- By: Steven Uy,  From: Kosovo  

www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=thorganizer

It's approved; "thorganizer" is part of the internet landscape now. (Right before "thorgasm" - not our contribution!!!) I'm sure his Salon.com article's a hoot, but this is my little contribution in getting in more thorganisms when you Google him.

Denika's slideshow was great, moving and funny. Some quite irreverent. Mission HQ Annex (your bid hall) never saw so much pale, pink flesh.

I miss you, Thor. Family of Thor - father, sister, niece and nephew, please know that his extended family here in Kosovo tried to love him as much as you did, although nothing comes close to the love he professed for all of you.

P.S. I promise to stop running into Molly if you'd just come back.

01-18-2008 8:35 AM -- By: Denika Blacklock,  From:  

Dear Thor, I have just come from a really lovely memorial service for you – so many wonderful things were said. Sven read out a poem for you from Sherwin… it was great. We even played the CD you gave us… some really great songs on there. But it was hard. You are the last person in the world who could go the way you did. I have had friends die tragically in the past, but this is the hardest one for me to understand. Do you know that Steve entered ‘Thorganize’ on Urban Dictionary? Also, I did a slide show (of over 120 photos) which I hope you would have liked – lots of funny and ridiculous photos, I’m sure you wouldn’t have wanted it any other way. I want you to know that you had a huge impact on my life – whether you knew it or not, you helped me through one of the most trying times in my life (until now). You were irrepressible, and got me involved and helped me meet people who have become some of the best friends I have ever known. And through you I am meeting so many others – the out pouring of gratitude for all you have done for so many people is nearly overwhelming. The impact of your death has been lessened by the fact that so many people knew and loved you, and we are here together, trying to make sure you are never forgotten. I heard someone say today that you are probably organizing heaven already… giving the Big Guy a run for his money, eh?? Have you met anyone cool yet? And what’s it like playing Ultimate on Cloud 9? I will cherish the wisdom you have shared with me over the short time we knew each other – and will always be one of your ex-wives in my heart. Love forever, Denika

01-18-2008 7:43 AM -- By: Ayalew Abebe,  From:  

So sorry to hear of the horrible news. My condolences to Thor’s family

01-18-2008 12:47 AM -- By: Sujata,  From: New York, NY  

My condolences and love go to Maren and Bernard and their kids.

 

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