The former model, restaurateur and lifestyle guru Barbara Elaine Smith, passed away after her long battle with Alzheimer’s. She was only 70-years-old.
Smith’s husband, Dan Gasby, confirmed the news on Sunday (Feb. 23), sharing that his wife had passed away in her home in Long Island, New York.
“It is with great sadness that my daughter Dana and I announce the passing of my wife, Barbara Elaine Smith.
B. died peacefully Saturday, February 22, 2020, at 10:50 pm, of Early-Onset Alzheimer’s Disease in our home in Long Island, New York. She was 70,” he wrote on Facebook.
Adding, “Heaven is shining even brighter now that it is graced with B.’s dazzling and unforgettable smile.”
As we previously reported, back in 2014, at the age of 64, Smith revealed that she had been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. She said she noticed symptoms, such as repeated words and forgetting things, as early as 2010. Yet, she was optimistic about her future despite her diagnosis.
“I think the future’s going to be fine,” she told CBS News, adding, “I’m going to do my best to make it work out for me, and for as many people that I can possibly help, too.”
Smith, who was born in Everson, PA to a steelworker father and mother who worked as a maid, began her beginning her modeling career in Pittsburgh, signing with the prominent Wilhelmina agency in New York, becoming one of the first black models to appear on the front of Mademoiselle magazine in 1976, the Washington Post reported. She went on to grace the covers of Ebony and Essence and sashaying down the catwalks in runway fashion shows in Paris and Milan. It wasn’t until later, that she took her childhood love for cooking and hostessing (which she credits to her mother ) and turned into a successful brand that spanned decades.
While some in media may have referred to Smith as the “Black Martha Stewart,” she rejected that label, calling it “tired,” the Post noted.
“Martha Stewart has presented herself doing the things domestics and African Americans have done for years,” she once told 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.”
Throughout her illustrious career, she also launched a magazine, a talk show “B. Smith With Style,” wrote multiple cookbooks and in 1986 opened her bistro B. Smith’s in New York’s booming Theater District (sadly, it closed in 2015).
Upon hearing the news of Smith’s passing, friends, colleagues and admirers flocked to Twitter to send their condolences to the icon:
Rest in power queen, you will be missed.