It’s a sad day in the world of Nickelodeon. Stephen Hillenburg, the creator of SpongeBob SquarePants, passed away on Monday at 57 years old. The cause of his death was ALS, which the cartoon creator announced he had been diagnosed with in March of 2017.

Nickelodeon took to Twitter to announce the sad news and share their utmost respect for Stephen and his incredible work.

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

“We are incredibly saddened by the news that Steve Hillenburg has passed away following a battle with ALS,” Nickelodeon said in another statement. “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.”

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The mind behind SpongeBob graduated from Humboldt State University in 1984 with a bachelor’s degree in Natural Resource Planning and Interpretation, with an emphasis on marine resources. Before his Nickelodeon debut, he was a marine biology teacher – his interest in sea creatures combined with his artistic eye led him to write and illustrate the well-known series we all know and love, SpongeBob Squarepants.

To say the show is legendary is an understatement. The fan-favorite animated series has won an array of awards, including six Annie Awards, eight Golden Reel Awards, four Emmy Awards, 15 Kids’ Choice Awards, and two BAFTA Children’s Awards. Now, that’s impressive.

We’re thinking of Stephen’s loved ones – and the entire Nickelodeon community – at this time.

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