Badger's daughters – Lily, 9, and Sarah and Grace, 7 – died with their maternal grandparents in a horrific fire at the home of their mother in 2011

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February 09, 2017 04:29 PM

Matthew Badger – the man whose three daughters were tragically killed in a Christmas Day house fire in 2011 – has died, the LilySarahGrace Fund, which he set up in their honor, announced on Thursday. He was 51.

Matthew’s ex-wife, Madonna Badger – with whom he shared the girls, Lily, 9, and Sarah and Grace, 7 – posted a photo of him with the children on Facebook, Thursday.

She wrote, “He was a wonderful man with a generous heart. He was an amazing dad to his girls, Lily, Sarah and Grace.  His death was sudden and peaceful. He is with his children and his parents and his brother, Mark.”

“Please send him light and love. My heart is broken but also joyous that they are together,” she said.

Lily, Sarah and Grace died with their maternal grandparents in a horrific fire at the Stamford, Conn., home of Madonna. Madonna and her then-boyfriend Michael Borcina, who was renovating the home at the time, were the only survivors.

In 2012, Matthew told PEOPLE of their devastating deaths, “If I don’t cry every day, the waves are bigger. If I cry every day, it is less dramatic. I don’t think the loss is ever going away.”

Matthew initially filed suit against Borcina, the city of Stamford and four other contractors who worked on the house, claiming that shoddy construction work turned the home into a firetrap. He settled the cases against all of the contractors for a sum over $7 million, the Hartford Courant reported in August 2016. The city has not yet settled, and the Courant said the case is scheduled to go before a jury in April.

Mike Coppola/Getty

Richard Cambria, executive director of the fund, told the New York Post that Matthew was surrounded by family when he died, but did not reveal his cause of death.

“We are deeply saddened to share the news of the passing of Matthew Badger, LSG co-founder,” the LilySarahGrace fund – which was started by Matthew – wrote in the statement. “When LSG first started, it was to honor the lives and memories of Matthew’s daughters. Spurred by the vision of Matthew, and co-founder Abby Ballin, countless numbers of children nationwide have benefited from classroom learning experiences enriched by the arts and creativity.”

The statement continued, “While our hearts are broken, we are honored and committed to carrying on Matthew’s legacy. LSG will continue to transform public elementary schools into child-centered learning environments that meet the needs of all learners while preparing creative 21st century global citizens.”

He found some solace in creating LSG. Said Matthew, “This is what gets me up in the mornings. I am trying to make up for what three little girls would have done for the planet. I think that’s what my girls would have wanted.”

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