B. Smith, model, restaurateur and lifestyle maven, died Saturday at her Long Island, New York home after a battle with early-onset Alzheimer’s disease. She was 70.

Smith, whose full name is Barbara Elaine Smith, started her career as a model. She was one of the first African American woman to appear on the cover of Mademoiselle magazine. After a successful modeling career, she moved on to another interest, restaurants. She opened three restaurants with her husband Dan Gasby, and eventually began a housewares line. Her housewares line spread to bed linens and furniture. The media began calling her “the black Martha Stewart,” though her friends knew her as much more than that.

In 2014, Smith was diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer’s at the age of 64. She collaborated on a book, Before I Forget, in 2016, and strove to bring attention to Alzheimer’s disease in African American women.


After her books publishing, Smith began making public appearances less and less as her disease worsened. She was cared for by her husband, her stepdaughter and, controversially, by her husband’s girlfriend, Alex Lerner.

Celebrities remembered Smith’s legacy with tweets on Sunday:


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