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Aye Aye Captain: The Death of Stephen Hillenburg

Stephen Hillenburg passed away Nov. 26, 2018, but his impact on lives will not be forgotten.

Stephen Hillenburg, a man who has made a great impact on so many children growing up through his creation of the very successful cartoon Spongebob Squarepants passed away Nov. 26, 2018, at age 57. This adds to the list of so many influential figures including Stan Lee, Steven Hawking, John McCain, Mac Miller, and many others who passed away this year.

Hillenburg had been diagnosed with ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, in March 2017. All throughout this circumstance he continuously worked on his hit show as it was his passion.

Stephen Hillenburg was born Aug. 21, 1961 to his parents Nancy and Kelly Hillenburg in his hometown, Lawton, OK. His first interest was aquatic life and in turn got his bachelor’s degree in Natural Resource Planning and Interpretation specifically for marine life in 1984.

Hillenburg created his show based off of his love for marine biology which had characters like a crab, plankton, a squid, a nautical squirrel, other sea life but most importantly, a sponge.

In 1987 he went to California Institute of Arts in Valencia, CA. in order to learn how to animate his show and graduated in 1992.

He began working with Nickelodeon to create his show and was later aired May 1, 1999, with the episode “Help Wanted” which told the story of how Spongebob got his job at his favorite place, The Krusty Krab.

In the episode, Spongebob saves Mr. Krabs and Squidward Tentacles from some hungry anchovies and the rest was history.

Hillenburg’s show won three awards at the 2000 Golden Reel Awards, an awards ceremony for those best in animation and sound in show productions, and was critically acclaimed by many critics, including Time Magazine’s James Poniewozik and The New York Times’ Joyce Millman.

Since then, Hillenburg’s creation has become a multi-billion dollar franchise, has aired for twelve seasons and has had two movies come out. 

“I loved Spongebob as a kid,” said senior Jack Rodes. “Even when I watch it now I die laughing.”

Stephen Hillenburg’s loved his life with his wife Karen and son Clay. The dream of his show became a reality and he was able to cherish every second of it. Hillenburg has made Nickelodeon what it is today and has made an impact on all of our lives. He will be sorely missed by those who have watched his show and who knew him not only as a creator but a friend, dad, and husband.

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