B. Smith "died peacefully" on Saturday, her husband Dan Gasby confirmed

By Maria Pasquini
February 23, 2020 11:30 AM
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B. Smith has died following a years-long battle with Alzheimer’s disease. She was 70.

“It is with great sadness that my daughter Dana and I announce the passing of my wife, Barbara Elaine Smith,” her husband Dan Gasby confirmed on Sunday in an emotional message shared on social media.

“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 added, before thanking all of the caregivers “who helped us make B. comfortable in her final days.”

Gasby added: “Thank you to all the friends and fans who supported B. and our family during her journey. Thank you to everyone for respecting our privacy during this agonizing time. Heaven is shining even brighter now that it is graced with B.’s dazzling and unforgettable smile.”

B.Smith and Dan Gasby
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Following the news of her death, many celebrities paid their respects online.

“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,” wrote Al Roker.

“RIP B. Smith.My thoughts & prayers are with her family. B. was special to many people — I’m honored to have spent time with her. B.’s fight with Alzheimer’s was one far too many face, but she approached it with a spirit that made her light shine bright,” added Dr. Oz.

Smith was diagnosed with the debilitating disease in 2013 after Gasby noticed she was becoming increasingly moody and forgetful.

“It’s the toughest thing I’ve ever dealt with,” Gasby, a TV producer, previously told PEOPLE in 2016. “Anybody who is an Alzheimer’s care giver knows exactly what other caregivers are going through. It’s 24/7. The complexity and the intensity of it is very tough.”

Her diagnosis came while she was still in the midst of building her empire. She opened three eponymous restaurants, penned three cookbooks and hosted the nationally syndicated show, B. Smith With Style. She was also one of the first African American women to grace the cover of Mademoiselle magazine.

B. Smith and Dan Gasby
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While continuing to care for his wife, Gasby went public with his relationship with girlfriend Alex Lerner in a December 2018 post on the Facebook page he shares with Smith

“B. told me to live, to go on, as I’ve told her,” Gasby told PEOPLE in 2019. “Anyone who says B. didn’t do that doesn’t know B. We wanted each other to be happy.”

He went on to share that finding a partner in Lerner, with whom he hosts a radio show on 77WABC, has helped him cope with the overwhelming responsibilities of caring for Smith.

“You can be a caregiver and be loving to the patient and your loved one but you can still find some joy. It doesn’t need to be one or the other.”