Stephen Hillenburg, the former marine biologist who was “the creative genius behind SpongeBob SquarePants,” * died Monday, November 26, at the age of 57. **
The cause of death : muscle-killing disease ALS, short for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. ** It’s often referred to as Lou Gehrig’s Disease, named after the baseball legend who was diagnosed on his 36th birthday in 1939. He died in 1941. ***
According to Hillenburg biographer Carla Mooney, SpongeBob “may never have been created” had Hillenburg’s family not moved in the mid-1960s from Oklahoma to California with its “miles of beaches that lined the Pacific Ocean. On these beaches, Hillenburg played as a child. There he developed an early love of the ocean and the amazing sea life it contained.” *
Just imagine life without SpongeBob, Patrick, Gary, Sandy, Squidward, Mr. Krabs, and all the other inhabitants of Bikini Bottom.
Today both land and sea mourn.
(*) Photos and information from “Stephen Hillenburg and SpongeBob SquarePants” by Carla Mooney. Published in 2016 as part of the “Contemporary Cartoon Creators” series from Reference Point Press of San Diego, CA. Available for checkout at MidPointe Library.