B. Smith, Known As ‘The Black Martha Stewart,’ Dies At 70
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:
“Whatever you do, do it with style!” -B.Smith| Rest In Peace and thank you for helping pave the way to redefining beauty and grace. You were an inspiration to many 🙏🏾🕊️😥 pic.twitter.com/5zmtqJq3tR
— Angie Greaves (@AngieGreaves) February 23, 2020
My grandma used to cut her recipes from magazines & newspapers and we’d made them together. RIP B. Smith. https://t.co/vIHHGhbJ3z
— Ashley C. Ford (@iSmashFizzle) 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
💔 B. Smith represented style, culture, beauty, and sophistication. She wore so many hats & wore them well! From books and restaurants – to her own home collections and TV show, she was a true renaissance woman who set the stage & standard for so many others to follow! https://t.co/7SbkTtqhHX
— Tenikka Smith Hughes (@TenikkaANjax) February 23, 2020