‘SpongeBob’ creator dead at 57

Alumnus Stephen Hillenburg makes permanent mark at HSU before passing
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Alumnus Stephen Hillenburg makes permanent mark at HSU before passing

Stephen Hillenburg, Humboldt State alum and creator of Nickelodeon cartoon “SpongeBob SquarePants,” has passed away.

Nickelodeon confirmed the news in a Tweet on Tuesday.

“We are sad to share the news of the passing of Stephen Hillenburg, the creator of SpongeBob SquarePants,” the network wrote. “Today, we are observing a moment of silence to honor his life and work.”

The 57-year-old Hillenburg revealed March of last year to Variety Magazine that he had been diagnosed with Lou Gehrig’s Disease, or ALS.

Hillenburg and his wife Karen gifted $135,000 to HSU back in Sept. to grant awards for students doing research with faculty in the marine sciences. The couple used the money to create the Stephen Hillenburg Marine Science Research Award Endowment fund.

According to an HSU press release, Stephen Hillenburg furthered both his knowledge of marine biology and his talent as an artist while he attended HSU. The creation of SpongeBob SquarePants was a natural merging of Hillenburg’s passion for art and the ocean.

The animated series first aired on Nickelodeon in 1999 and features a square yellow sponge named SpongeBob SquarePants. He lives in a pineapple under the sea with his pet snail, Gary, in the city of Bikini Bottom on the floor of the Pacific Ocean.

SpongeBob SquarePants has won both U.S. and British Emmy Awards and has been translated in more than 60 languages, including Urdu, Azerbaijani and Maori.

Hillenburg is survived by his wife of 20 years Karen Hillenburg, son Clay, mother Nancy Hillenburg and brother Brian Kelly Hillenburg.

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