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Fans on Twitter are gathered in mourning and remembrance after news that Spongebob Squarepants founder Stephen Hillenburg has died. 

Hillenburg, born August 21, 1961 in Lawton, Okla., was raised primarily in Anaheim, Calif. He discovered a love of sea life and art while in high school, graduating from Humboldt State University in 1984 in natural-resource planning and interpretation. After working at the Orange County Marine Institute as a schoolteacher, Hillenburg began exploring his passion for art and animation at the Experimental Animation Program at CalArts in the late ’80’s.

Spongebob Squarepants was reportedly in development since the mid-eighties but didn’t debut until July 17, 1999, on the Nickelodeon network. This year, the series celebrated its 12th season on the air, with a pair of feature films, spinoff toys, and other related memorabilia.

Hillenburg, who was diagnosed with ALS in 2017, was 57 at the time of his passing.

We’ve collected some of the Twitter praise for the late Stephen Hillenburg below.

Photo: Getty

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