Stephen Hillenburg, the creator of Spongebob Squarepants, died this week. Nickelodeon confirmed the news on Twitter Tuesday.
"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 network wrote in a tweet.
Hillenburg, who was 57, was battling ALS, otherwise known as Lou Gehrig's disease, a neurodegenerative disorder. He is survived by his wife Karen Hillenburg and their son, Clay.
"Anyone who knows me knows that I will continue to work on SpongeBob SquarePants and my other passions for as long as I am able," Hillenburg said. "My family and I are grateful for the outpouring of love and support. We ask that our sincere request for privacy be honored during this time.”
Hillenburg stepped back from his duties as Spongebob showrunner in 2004 following the first Spongebob movie, The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie. Hillenburg directed the first movie and co-wrote the 2015 follow-up. Hillenburg did not work on the third film, It's a Wonderful Sponge, to be released in 2020.
Hillenburg was initially a marine biology teacher. During his time as a teacher, he came up with the concept that would later become Spongebob Squarepants.
? 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. ?— Nickelodeon (@Nickelodeon) November 27, 2018