B. Smith, the groundbreaking lifestyle guru, restaurateur, author and former model, died on Saturday (Feb. 22) from early on-set Alzheimer’s disease. She was 70.
Smith’s husband, Dan Gasby, announced her death via Facebook on Sunday (Feb. 23). “It is with great sadness that my daughter, Dana, and I announce the passing of my wife, Barbara Elaine Smith,” the statement reads. “B died peacefully Saturday, February 22, 2020, at 10:50 p.m., of Early-Onset Alzheimer’s Disease in our home in Long Island, New York.”
Barbara Elaine Smith was born in Everson, Penn., on Aug. 24, 1949. Smith began her modeling career in the 1960s working for Ebony Fashion Fair and later signing with Wilhelmina Models. Smith covered 15 magazines during her modeling days, including becoming the first Black model to cover Mademoiselle magazine in 1976. Additionally, Smith appeared in TV commercials for Mercedes-Benz, and worked as a spokesperson for Verizon, Colgate, Palmolive, and more.
Smith opened her first of multiple restaurants in New York City’s theater district in 1986. She also opened restaurants in Long Island, N.Y. and Washington D.C.
For nearly a decade, Smith hosted the nationally syndicated show, B. Smith with Style, captivating audiences with her bright personality and unforgettable smile. Smith also produced multiple specials for TV One and was bestselling author. Her signature tagline, “Whatever you do, do it with style,” was featured at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture.
In 2001, Bed Bath & Beyond debuted the B. Smith Style Home Collection. The collection, which including bedding, doormats and more, made Smith the first Black woman to have a home decor line sold by a national retailer.
Smith publicly revealed her Alzheimer’s diagnosis to CBS News in 2014. During the interview, Smith didn’t shy away from expressing her fears of battling the disease, and admitted that she initially tried to hide it, but she was determined to persevering in spite of Alzheimer’s.
“I think the future’s going to be fine,” Smith said at the time. “I’m going to do my best to make it work out for me, and for as many people that I can possibly help.”
Read dedications to Smith below.
The elegance. The grace. The style. May God rest and bless her soul. #BSmith was one-of-a-kind.
— Ava DuVernay (@ava) February 23, 2020
— Audrey Washington (@AudreyWSBTV) February 23, 2020
— Maya R. Cummings, Ph.D. (@MayaRockeymoore) February 23, 2020
RIP to the legendary B.Smith
I remember growing up and watching her show. I wanted to be her. Style and grace. Rest well beautiful. pic.twitter.com/diBjGf1Jyb
— Melanin Monroe (@whatdedesays) February 23, 2020
Sad to share the passing of restauranteur, model and advocate B. Smith after a several year battle with Alzheimer’s. We are thankful she spoke at our Celebrating Hope Gala in 2016. Rest B. And thank you 💜 #ENDALZ @alzassociation pic.twitter.com/G9IDVAB0DL
— Alzheimer’s Association Connecticut Chapter (@alzct) February 23, 2020
We lost legendary fashion model, chef, restaurateur, lifestyle icon and magazine publisher, B Smith today. 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. #bsmithwithstyle pic.twitter.com/pqFOpa9oxs
— Al Roker (@alroker) February 23, 2020
I only met B. Smith once or twice at her restaurant in New York City.
She was beautiful, graceful and welcoming each time. As a model, a TV personality, a business owner and an entrepreneur, she was always a trailblazer.
May she rest in peace. https://t.co/YqyxUZKMrB
— Keith Boykin (@keithboykin) February 23, 2020
All of these things so true. Thank you B. Smith. https://t.co/Fmi0QJNviu
— Tamron Hall (@tamronhall) February 23, 2020
RIP B. Smith. You epitomized class, true beauty and dignity. Rest well Queen❤️❤️❤️ pic.twitter.com/uJlWb9aapG
— Viola Davis (@violadavis) February 23, 2020