"Heaven is shining even brighter now that it is graced with B.'s dazzling and unforgettable smile.
Dan Gasby, Husband to B. Smith
At age 70, iconic model, designer and restauranteur B. Smith succumbed to early onset Alzheimer’s Disease, which she had been bravely battling in the public eye. She died on February 22nd at her Long Island, New York, home surrounded by her family.
While Smith is well known for being a stunning model and a successful designer, she is probably most remembered for her superb culinary skills and her stylish B. Smith restaurants. The first restaurant opened in the NYC theater district in 1986 and Essence magazine described it as the place “...where the who’s who of black Manhattan meet, greet and eat regularly.” Two more popular B. Smith restaurants followed in Long Island and Washington D.C.
In 2013, Smith had been showing signs of forgetfulness, but it wasn’t until after she lost her train of thought while in the middle of a cooking demonstration on NBC's Today show, she decided it was time to get a doctor's opinion. The devastating news arrived with the test results that indicated that in her 50’s, she was in the beginning stages of early-onset Alzheimer's Disease. She was not alone. Every 67 seconds someone is diagnosed with it, and millions of lives of family and friends are affected by the devastation.
B. Smith put on a brave face and in 2014 she and her husband Dan Gasby disclosed her Alzheimer’s diagnosis to the public. She emphasized how she planned on living her life to its fullest until she couldn’t anymore. Just a year later in 2014, B. Smith appeared in a public service announcement for Alzheimer’s Disease and although as gracious as always, it was obvious that the disease was progressing. Her famous beautiful smile dimmed and her eyes looked dull. She began to forgot things easily and she even was lost for several hours in her familiar neighborhood on Central Park South in New York City.
Despite her disease taking a toll on her ability to continue to be a public figure, she and her husband bravely continued their interviews to educate others and to de-stigmatize Alzheimer’s Disease. The interviews eventually ceased as Smith's condition worsened.
B. Smith and her husband wrote a book together, Before I Forget, and were determined to use the book to raise public awareness that Alzheimer's is known to be more prevalent in women and African Americans. According to a book review, “Crafted in short chapters that interweave their narrative with practical and helpful advice, readers learn about dealing with Alzheimer's day-to-day challenges: the family realities and tensions, ways of coping, coming research that may tip ..."