Stephen Hillenburg, the creator of the hit series SpongeBob SquarePants, passed away on Tuesday at the age of 57. He had revealed in March that he was suffering from amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), and complications from that led to his passing.
Nickelodeon, the home of the SpongeBob series, said in a statement, “We are incredibly saddened by the news that Steve Hillenburg has passed away following a battle with ALS.” The network went on to add, “He was a beloved friend and long-time creative partner to everyone at Nickelodeon, and our hearts go out to his entire family. Steve imbued SpongeBob SquarePants with a unique sense of humor and innocence that has brought joy to generations of kids and families everywhere. His utterly original characters and the world of Bikini Bottom will long stand as a reminder of the value of optimism, friendship and the limitless power of imagination.”
Hillenburg is survived by his wife, Karen Umland, and their one son, Clay.