Shadman Muhtasim Chowdhury
Marine biologist and the creator of the famous animated TV show ‘SpongeBob SquarePants’, Stephen Hillenburg passes away on Monday at the age of 56. The cause of death was ALS, which Hillenburg revealed had been diagnosed within March of last year.
Hillenburg graduated from Humboldt State University with a bachelor’s degree in Natural Resource Planning and Interpretation, with an emphasis on marine resources. He then became a marine biology teacher at the Orange County Marine Institute (The Ocean Institute) in Dana Point, California. This interest, combined with his artistic talent and love of the sea and its creatures, led him to write and illustrate stories as teaching tools with characters that would later become the center of SpongeBob’s home, Bikini Bottom.
He won an award for Best Animated Concept at the Ottawa International Animation Festival for his animated short ‘Wormholes’, which went on to be shown at various international animation festivals. Later he would pursue work in television as a director and writer on Nickelodeon’s series ‘Rocko’s Modern Life.’
From there, he began to work full-time as a writer, producer and director on the animated series that ‘SpongeBob SquarePants.’ The first episode aired on Nickelodeon on May 1, 1999 and the series commenced its full run on July 17 of that year. The series has aired nearly 250 episodes to date.
The series went on to ick up both U.S. and British Emmy Awards, Annie Awards, and ASACP Awards. It has been dubbed and subtitled in more than 60 languages.
Hillenburg is survived by his wife of 20 years Karen Hillenburg, son Clay, mother Nancy Hillenburg (nee Dufour) and his brother Brian Kelly Hillenburg, his wife Isabel, and nieces Emma and Hazel.