Lifestyle maven, restaurateur and model B. Smith, one of the first African American women to grace the cover of Mademoiselle, died Saturday at her Long Island, N.Y., home. She was 70.
Her death came five years after she announced that she had been diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer’s disease.
“Heaven is shining even brighter now that it is graced with B.’s dazzling and unforgettable smile,” her husband Dan Gasby wrote on Facebook.
Smith, whose full name was Barbara Elaine Smith, began her career as a model in the 1960s and became one of the first African American women on Mademoiselle’s cover in July 1976.
She ran three B. Smith restaurants — in NYC, Sag Harbor and D.C. — until she was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease at the age of 64 in 2013.
However, Smith began suffering from memory problems years before her diagnosis. She once froze for several seconds while being interviewed on the “Today Show,” prompting a doctor’s visit that led to her diagnosis. A few months later, she wandered away and was missing in New York City for a day.
She wrote a book in 2016, “Before I Forget,” in which she shared her struggles with the disease. Additionally, both Smith and Gasby had worked to raise awareness for the disease and its effects on the African American community.