Eric Carle, Author of 'The Very Hungry Caterpillar,' Passed Away at 91 Years Old

Chris Barilla - Author

May 27 2021, Published 11:30 a.m. ET

Eric Carle
Source: Getty

Throughout his years writing children's picture books, Eric Carle built his identity around tales of cute insects and animals. His defining book, The Very Hungry Caterpillar, was released in 1969 and has been in circulation ever since, delighting generation after generation.

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Sadly, Eric passed away at 91 years old on May 23, 2021, leaving behind a legacy that will undoubtedly endure for decades to come. For however well-known his work as a writer is, not many are familiar with who Eric was beyond the pages of his books. So, who are his family members? Here's what we know about his children, his wife, and even his cause of death.

Eric Carle
Source: Getty
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Eric Carle has two children who were very inspiring to him.

Although not many details are known about them, Eric did indeed have two children. His son, Rolf, and his daughter, Cirsten, remained out of the public spotlight but held a major place in Eric's heart. Not only did they affect him on a personal level, but they became the basis for his work on the book Papa, Please Get the Moon for Me.

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Eric was married twice throughout the course of his life.

The famed author was actually married twice in life. He had his children with his first wife, Dorothea Wohlenberg. Their marriage sadly ended in divorce, but Eric didn't shy away from the notion of finding love entirely.

In 1973, Eric remarried, this time to Barbara "Bobbie" Morrison. While they were together they founded the Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art in Amherst, MA. Unfortunately, Barbara died in 2015, a moment that profoundly affected Eric.

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His cause of death can be attributed to a longstanding medical condition.

According to his son, Eric's cause of death is attributed to kidney failure, per The New York Times. Rolf added that his father indeed passed away peacefully at his summer studio in Northampton, MA. As for who was present, Rolf said Eric was surrounded by family members up until his final moments.

In the wake of his death, plenty of fans have taken to social media with condolences and to reflect on the immense impact Eric's work had on their lives.

"Ah, Eric Carle. Nobody ever managed such a strong combination of bright life and dignity in the work. The books still feel like clear-eyed statements of design and deep love for the form. All I ever wanted to make was a cover as good as these. RIP," wrote Jon Klassen, an award-winning children's book author and illustrator.

"RIP Eric Carle. I'd like to believe that he's a butterfly now," another person chimed in.

In a statement on the Carle Museum's website, Eric's family wrote, "In the light of the moon, holding on to a good star, a painter of rainbows is now traveling across the night sky."

We offer our sincere condolences to Eric Carle's family and friends at this time.

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