Thor Hesla was killed on January 14th, 2008 in an attack by the Taliban in Kabul, Afghanistan. I may have met Thor once or twice, but I didn’t know him.
My perspective on this tragedy is that I know his father, Professor Emeritus David Hesla. David Hesla is a beloved and somewhat eccentric professor, one of the original members of my home department of the Graduate Institute of the Liberal Arts at Emory University. Among other things, he wrote the best book on Samuel Beckett that I’ve ever read (Art of Chaos). Not too long ago, he and my original dissertation adviser were granted Heilbrun Awards to support their current research. Prof. Hesla looked as happy as I have ever seen him, waxing enthusiastic about three projects that he was working on.
This is truly horrible news. Those of us who know David Hesla have been in contact, and everyone is stunned and heartbroken for David.
We weep for ourselves as well. By all accounts, we lost one of the very, very good guys in Thor Hesla. It has taken me several days to be able to write this blog post.
Thor Hesla, 45, of Atlanta, worked for BearingPoint Management & Technology Consultants, which had a contract with the U.S. Agency for International Development to help war-ravaged Afghanistan rebuild, a company spokesman said. He was one of the eight people killed in the bombing and shooting attack Monday on the Serena Hotel in Kabul. Authorities in Kabul said an American, a Norwegian journalist and a Filipina who died of her wounds Tuesday were among those killed. A longtime family friend, Margaret Hylton Jones, told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution that Hesla was aware of the danger of Afghanistan, his most recent assignment after stints in Kosovo, South Africa and Kazakhstan. Hesla “put his affairs in order” before leaving for the assignment, which began Nov. 1, Jones said, including updating his will. He took his father, a retired Emory University professor, on a trip to New York and spent time with his 12-year-old niece and 10-year-old nephew.
The Memorial Site for Thor Hesla is http://www.rememberthor.com. There you will find a lot more information about Thor and what he was doing in Kabul, planned memorial services, reminiscences, 100 things Thor didn’t want you to know, official recognition letters, a sTHORy about how Thor was strangled by a dwarf in Pristina, Kosovo, and much more. A book will be made from the site to benefit Doctors Without Borders.
- See the hilarious Salon article Thor wrote in 1999: Ten modest proposals to help Ann Coulter get a date.
- A Legacy guestbook can be found here.
- In lieu of flowers, you can send a donation in Thor’s name to Doctors without Borders.