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Style guru and restaurateur B. Smith

B. Smith (1949–2020), restaurateur and lifestyle guru

by Linnea Crowther

B. Smith was the owner of the popular Manhattan restaurant B. Smith, whose eye for style made her a well-known designer and lifestyle guru. Born Barbara Elaine Smith, she was also a model who was one of the first black women to appear on the cover of Mademoiselle magazine, in 1976. Called the black Martha Stewart, she starred in the syndicated TV show “B. Smith with Style,” and she wrote cookbooks including “B. Smith’s Entertaining and Cooking for Friends.” As a décor designer, Smith created  collections sold at Bed Bath & Beyond and La-Z-Boy.

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Died: February 22, 2020 (Who else died on February 22?)

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Details of death: Died at home on Long Island, New York of early-onset Alzheimer’s disease at the age of 70.


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Early-onset Alzheimer’s disease: Smith publicly shared her diagnosis with early-onset Alzheimer’s disease in 2014. She had been experiencing symptoms since she was in her late 50s, and she went public in part to help combat the stigma against the disease.  Along with her second husband, Dan Gasby, she wrote and published “Before I Forget: Love, Hope, and Acceptance in Our Fight Against Alzheimer’s,” a chronicle of her struggle.

Notable quote: “I have stood on a mountain of no’s for one yes.”

What people said about her: “The elegance. The grace. The style. May God rest and bless her soul. B. Smith was one-of-a-kind.” —director Ava DuVernay

“She broke down barriers. She shined. She fought the good fight. Rest in peace, B. Smith.” —journalist Audrey Washington

“RIP B. Smith. You epitomized class, true beauty, and dignity. Rest well Queen” —actress Viola Davis

“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 Alzheimer’s research for people of color. Love to them and their daughter, Dana.” —Today Show cohost Al Roker

Full obituary: The New York Times

Related lives:

  • Naomi Sims (1948–2009), first black supermodel
  • Leah Chase (1923–2019), New Orleans chef perfected Creole cuisine
  • Joan Johnson (2019), co-founded pioneering black haircare company Johnson Products

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