Stephen Hillenburg Obituary
On Monday, November 26, 2018, we said goodbye to the creator of ’SpongeBob SquarePants’, Stephen Hillenburg at the age of 57. He passed away after a tough battle with ALS, which he was diagnosed with in March of 2017.
Hillenburg's bachelor’s degree in Natural Resource Planning and Interpretation, with an emphasis on marine resources, lead him into becoming a marine biology teacher at the Orange County Marine Institute. It was his interest in marine biology and his artistic talent that triggered him to create characters and stories to aid as teaching tools. These characters would then become the inhabitants of his worldly creation, Bikini Bottom, the home of Spongebob SquarePants.
He earned his Master of Fine Arts in 1992 and won an award for Best Animated Concept at the Ottawa International Animation Festival for his animated short “Wormholes”. The first episode of ’SpongeBob SquarePants’, which Hillenburg wrote, produced, and directed, aired on Nickelodeon on May 1, 1999 and has now shown almost 250 episodes. The series has won both U.S. and British Emmy Awards, Annie Awards, and ASACP Awards. In 2004, “The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie” grossed over $140 million, which was also written, produced, and directed by Hillenburg.
His ability to trigger the imagination of children and their families everywhere through his creative world of Bikini Bottom will never be forgotten and will continue to do just that. His unique and joyous characters symbolize friendship and the importance of optimism.
He is survived by his wife, Karen Hillenburg, son Clay, mother Nancy Hillenburg (nee Dufour) and brother Brian Kelly Hillenburg (Isabel), and nieces Emma and Hazel.
Visitors are invited to light a candle and leave a message of condolence for the creator of ’SpongeBob SquarePants’, Stephen Hillenburg.