'Hi! Billy Mays here for . . .'
If you were to measure the significance of a person's life -- and death -- by the range of random comments in the newsroom when they die, then Billy Mays, the ubiquitous TV pitchman, ranks right up there with Farrah Fawcett and just a step down from the King of Pop himself, Michael Jackson. Walking around the newroom distributing a list of tomorrow's obits, I kept encountering stories about Billy Mays, who was found dead by his wife in their Tampa, Fla., home this morning.
He certainly insinuated himself into the culture. The people who lay out the newspaper deep into the night noted that anyone who works nights knows Billy Mays. Photographer John McDonnell dropped by to reminisce about the man who sold the world on the virtues of Oxi Clean, Orange Glo, Soft Buns and all the other items you didn't know you needed until Billy Mays told you so. John said his 6-year-old daughter saw him reading about Mays this morning at breakfast and exclaimed, "That's the Awesome Auger man!" She doesn't know what an auger is, but she knows Billy Mays.
Authorities have yet to determine the cause of death. Mays was 50.
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