Thor Hesla Killed By the Taliban

Thor Hesla Killed By the Taliban

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 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.

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One thought on “Thor Hesla Killed By the Taliban

  1. My dear David Hesla: We were at St. Bartholomew’s for several years together in the early 1970’s, Mary, your wonderful wife and church organist, was one of my best friends. Her death came the day after my husband (at the time) and our two young children, (David & Barbara) rode our two motorcycles to your home on a Sunday evening, had milk and cookies (!) and went back home. The next day I heard of Mary’s death. She was a dear, wonderful, beautiful woman and friend. Thor and Marla (?) daughter were devastated at the loss of their Mother. I spent two days in their kitchen, receiving phone calls and many, many friends. David, too, was devastated. David was a marvelous teacher….and I took every “Adult Sunday School” class that he taught at St. Bart’s because he was a magnet to anyone who wanted to learn. I well remember a class where we discussed nothing but “Waiting for Godot”!
    Thor and his sister, Marla, were young at the time (maybe 8 and 10???,) and I cared a great deal for them.
    Now I receive this tragic news of Thor’s death. I am living in Hickory, North Carolina, and have not had contact with David nor his children for 30+ years (since I moved here to remarry, and recently my husband died). I have thought of the Heslas, the many wonderful times we had at our home and their home together, with my then husband, Floyd Rush, who still lives in Atlanta with his wife of 25+ years.
    Our lives move on but we seldom forget the people who were important to us, and David Hesla and his wife and children were very dear to me.
    I hope that David and his daughter are able to survive yet another family tragedy. Knowing David, he will retreat into his “intellectual being” and figure out why this happened and how to live with it. Losing a child is devastating. The WORST thing that can happen.
    I hope that somehow you will get this message to David so he will know that I still remember him well and love him, too. I remember inviting him to my 35th birthday party because he said he would “never give you a dime for a woman under 35”!!!!!!!!! And when I turned 35, I HAD to invite him! I am now 67 and still a vital woman. I would like him to know that he is and has been in my memories for many years.
    You/he can reach me at in Hickory, where I have owned a craft gallery for 28 years.
    Thank you very much for the opportunity to tell you my “story”. I have photographs in my scrapbook of their family, stretched out on my sofa in Atlanta…they WERE a happy family and people I loved.
    With deepest sympathy to David, Marla and her family…………and with love to them all.
    Julia Rush, Hickory, NC

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