Jane Henson, former Muppet co-creator, designer and wife to Jim Henson, passed away at her Connecticut home on Tuesday after a long battle with cancer. She was 78.

The Hensons first began collaborating after meeting in a puppetry class at the University of Maryland in the mid-fifties. In 1955, the pair created Sam & Friends, a 5-minute televised sketch show that ran for 6 years and featured the first incarnation of what would eventually become Kermit the Frog. The couple married in 1959 and Jane spent the majority of the sixties raising their children and teaching art, but continued to act as Jim's peripheral business partner. She was particularly involved with Sesame Street and occasionally appeared on the show.

Jane and Jim separated four years prior to Jim's death in 1990, however she was one of the driving forces and contributors to the Jim Henson Foundation.

A statement from the Jim Henson Company describes her as an "integral creative and business partner."

A memorial mass will occur next week.

Muppets designer Jane Henson dies [BBC News]