B. Smith, known as a trailblazing model, restaurateur, and lifestyle maven, has passed away at the age of 70, following a years-long battle with early onset Alzheimer’s. The news was confirmed Sunday by her husband, Dan Gasby, on social media.
Born Barbara Elaine Smith in Pennsylvania, she started her career as a model in the 1960s, signing with the famed Wilhelmina Agency. She was one of the first African-American models to cover a major fashion magazine with her appearance in Mademoiselle Magazine in July 1976. She would go on to a successful career as a lifestyle guru, tv host, author of several cookbooks, and restaurateur. She was often compared to Martha Stewart, which she admitted was tiring.
“Martha Stewart has presented herself doing the things domestics and African Americans have done for years,” she said in a 1997 interview with New York magazine. “We were always expected to redo the chairs and use everything in the garden. This is the legacy that I was left. Martha just got there first.”
B. Smith went public with her battle with Alzheimer’s back in 2016, three years after she was diagnosed. She and her husband decided to go public to raise awareness for the disease, co-writing a book together titled “Before I Forget: Love, Hope, Help, and Acceptance in Our Fight Against Alzheimer’s.”
Smith is survived by her husband, stepdaughter Dana, and two brothers.