This was a shocking, surprising, and ultimately sad loss, but the multi-talented Earl Kress has died, after losing a battle with cancer.
I had actually known Earl Kress, not personally, mind you, but he was an avid, regular member of the Muppet Central Forum, of which I too am a proud member of, and I have had the pleasure of talking with him once before; among Earl's credits was working on The Muppet Movie, in which he performed Ernie, from Sesame Street, during the grand finale of the movie. Earl shared quite a bit of informative insight with me about the art of puppetry, as well as some behind-the-scenes details of Jim Henson and the Muppets, all of which I learned a lot from, though at the same time, is meant to be kept secret, so I won't go into details of what he shared with me. At the same time, he shared even more information about his work with Henson publically at Muppet Central, under the username Was Once Ernie.
Outside of puppetry, Earl was also heavily involved in the animation world as well, he worked on stories for various Disney classics, and wrote a number of episodes for Animaniacs, especially The Pinky and The Brain segments, and has also done some vocal work as well (he mentioned that he voiced the mousy old lady who kept hitting bad notes while singing the anthem for the Rescue Aid Society from The Rescuers).
Admittedly, I had actually wondered what had become of him, I hadn't seen much of him around Muppet Central for a while, but I was not aware of the health problems he was facing, which is what made this loss really shocking and surprising, but it's still very sad nonetheless. He will truly be missed.