Model and lifestyle guru, Barbara B. Smith is dead.
The famous restaurateur died on Saturday evening after suffering from early-onset Alzheimer’s which was diagnosed in 2013. She died at her Long Island home at age 70.
Announcing her death, her husband, Dan Gasby with whom she had grown successful businesses wrote on Facebook: “Heaven is shining even brighter now that it is graced with B.’s dazzling and unforgettable smile.”
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Following the diagnosis, Smith and her husband raised awareness of the disease, focusing more on its impact on the African-American community. They also co-authored a book, “Before I Forget: Love, Hope, Help, and Acceptance in Our Fight Against Alzheimer’s,” and partnered with the Brain Health Registry.
Known as B. Smith, her eponymous Manhattan restaurant which opened in 1986, attracted affluent black New Yorkers, the New York Times recalled. Essence magazine described it as the place “where the who’s who of black Manhattan meet, greet and eat regularly”.
Described as a “black Martha Stewart”, Smith wrote three cookbooks, founded three successful restaurants and launched a nationally syndicated television show and a magazine, Times reports.
Her success story didn’t end there, she became the first black woman whose product was sold out at a national retailer when it debuted in 2001 at Bed Bath & Beyond.
Times report that in 1976, she became the second black model to be on the cover of Mademoiselle magazine, after Joli Jones in 1969.
Smith’s health deteriorated and she lost memory at a point.
While being interviewed on the “Today Show,” she once froze for several seconds prompting a doctor’s visit. A few months later, she wandered away and was missing in New York City for a day.
This affected her relationship with her husband, Gasby, who confessed he was in a relationship with another woman in 2018. In the face of harsh criticisms, Gasby wrote on Facebook: “I love my wife but I can’t let her take away my life.”
A native of Pennsylvania, Smith began her career as a fashion model in Pittsburgh and went on to serve as a spokeswoman for Verizon, Colgate, Palmolive Oxy, and McCormick’s Lawry’s seasonings.
She hosted the nationally syndicated TV show, B Smith, with Style for nearly a decade, on NBC stations.
Smith is survived by Gasby, whom she married in 1992, and her stepdaughter Dana Gasby.
Following her death, Face2Face Africa casts the spotlight on some famous people who died as a direct result of Alzheimer’s disease.