Stephen Hillenburg, the creator of SpongeBob SquarePants, has Expired at the age of 57. The reason for death was ALS, which he had been diagnosed with last year.

In 2017, Hillenburg revealed that he had been diagnosed with ALS. The neurodegenerative disease causes the death of neurons that control a individual ’s voluntary muscles, resulting in eventual paralyzation.

The average life expectancy for those afflicted with ALS is between two and five decades, and there’s currently no cure.

“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 special sense of humor and innocence that has brought joy to generations of children and families everywhere. His utterly original characters and the world of Bikini Bottom will stand as a reminder of the value of optimism, friendship and the boundless power of imagination. ”

Hillenburg — or Steve because he was known to family, friends, and lovers — was born August 21, 1961, at Fort Sill in Lawton, Oklahoma. After leaving the army, his father, Kelly N. Hillenburg, Jr., became a draftsman and designer for aerospace companies.

He’s survived by his wife of 20 years Karen Hillenburg, son Clay, mother Nancy Hillenburg (nee Dufour) and brother Brian Kelly Hillenburg, his wife Isabel, and nieces Emma and Hazel.

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