The restaurateur, model and author B. Smith died on Saturday after a battle with Alzheimer’s disease, her husband Dan Gasby said in a statement. She was 70 years old.
“Thank you to all the friends and fans who supported B. and our family during her journey,” Gasby said. “Thank you to everyone for respecting our privacy during this agonizing time.”
“Heaven is shining even brighter now that it is graced with B.’s dazzling and unforgettable smile.”
Smith, whose full name was Barbara Elaine Smith, was a multi-faceted and multi-talented personality.
In addition to building restaurants and a home decor collection, over the years, Smith was a fashion model, actress, broadcast talent and bestselling cookbook author. In 1976 she became one of the first African American women to appear on the cover of “Mademoiselle” magazine. “B. Smith with Style,” her syndicated talk show, aired nationally on NBC stations for several years. She also ran three popular restaurants.
Smith was diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer’s at the age of 64 in 2013.
“It feels like crying,” she told CBS in a 2014 interview. “Things like that make me very sad.”
But she was also determined to raise awareness of Alzheimer’s, particularly for the African American community.
Smith collaborated on a book, “Before I Forget,” to share her fight against the disease and practical advice for families with loved ones who are diagnosed with Alzheimer’s.
“The elegance. The grace. The style. May God rest and bless her soul. #BSmith was one-of-a-kind,” director Ava DuVernay wrote in a tweet.
“We lost legendary fashion model, chef, restaurateur, lifestyle icon and magazine publisher, B Smith today,” NBC’s Al Roker said on Twitter.
“70 years old, she and her husband, Dan Gasby were at the forefront of #alzheimers #research for people of color. Love to them and daughter, Dana.”