Betty-Lou Lipbaum, better known as the "time lady" who possessed what many have called the "best known voice in the world", passed away this morning at the age of 81.
Family and friends say that Lipbaum died doing what she loved, giving the time to people who couldn't afford a watch or were too introverted to ask someone in the room what time it was.
"It was so tragic," recalled Tami Tubsmyth, who is believed to be the last person to call Lipbaum for the time.
"Everything seemed normal at first. She said 'At the tone the time will be... seven... thirty one... and twenty seconds', and then I waited for the tone. There was no tone. I knew immediately what had happened. The missing tone will haunt me forever."
When news of the tragedy hit Wall Street, the market immediately hit a slump and dropped some 200 points.
"Time is the essence of this economy," Said market analyst Morton Goldblath, "If people don't know what time it is, then they'll do crazy stuff, like show up to the market 10 minutes before it opens, try to trade stock after the 4 p.m. close, or set their TV's to tape 'CSI: Miami' at the wrong time and end up with the very end of CSI: Miami and the beginning of the late news. This kind of thing can have a devastating impact on an economy."
Friends say they saw something like this coming.
"We begged her to take a day off. She was doing that 24/7 for decades" According to family physician Ralph Whiteman. "She had the workaholic mentality, and a fierce devotion to making sure every American had equal access to the correct time. If somebody was late for work, she took it personally."
Funeral services for Betty-Lou Lipbaum will be held on a taped-loop basis for the next two days, just to insure that everyone who doesn't know what time it is can get the best possible chance to attend.
Ms. Lipbaum will be interred next to her best friend of 50 years, Gertie Franklin, best known as "The number you have reached has been changed" lady, who passed away last July. Per instructions in the wills of both women, their joint epitaph will read, "We're dead... Please make a note of it."