B. Smith's Husband Says He's Still Diligently Caring for Her — Despite Moving On with Another Woman
Dan Gasby insisted that his wife Barbara Smith is being properly cared for and loved while she battles Alzheimer’s
Gasby, who went public with his new girlfriend Alex Lerner in December, recently spoke to Page Six about his wife’s declining health and explained that he is continuously providing the best care for her, despite beginning a new relationship with another woman.
“Barbara’s being cared for and loved. She’s not in a box. Not struggling or dying,” he reassured the outlet. “I take care of Barbara. I’ll always take care of her.”
Smith, 69, was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s six years ago after Gasby, 65, noticed her become increasingly — and uncharacteristically — moody and forgetful.
He has since become her full-time caretaker at their East Hampton home, where Lerner, 54, also stays and helps out when she is visiting from Manhattan.
The news of Smith’s diagnosis came as she was continuing to build her empire. Over the years, she opened three eponymous restaurants, wrote three cookbooks and hosted the nationally syndicated show, B. Smith With Style.
She also made history as the first African-American woman to grace the cover of Mademoiselle magazine, as well as the first African-American woman to launch her own brand of home goods (at Bed, Bath and Beyond).
Her restaurants have all closed now, with Smith and Gasby instead turning their attention to Alzheimer’s advocacy work. They even chronicled their experience with the disease in the 2016 memoir, Before I Forget: Love, Hope, Help, and Acceptance in Our Fight Against Alzheimer’s.
“I have a seven-bedroom house, in partnership with an assisted-living facility, still handling our Bed Bath & Beyond products, working on a documentary about her and trying to do a radio show,” he explained to Page Six. “Diagnosed with dementia in 2013, Barbara then told me to live my life. It would maybe not be bad if I weren’t so lonely.”
The businessman isn’t the only one who has dedicated his time to ensuring that Smith is properly cared for. The couple’s daughter Dana and Lerner, who Gasby met at a bar in 2017, have also spent time helping his wife.
“My daughter, Dana, who’s 32, is caring for her. My ladyfriend Alexandra is taking care,” he explained. “We’ve gone through the whole circle of brain foundations.”
“Alex’s father suffered with this same illness. She saw her father who was all alone become a child,” he continued. “She understands what this is like. She was married, had three children and the husband left her. Look, we all watch over Barbara. We take walks with her. We are all caring for her.”
And though he’s received criticism for beginning a new relationship as he cares for the famed restaurateur and lifestyle guru, Gasby noted how people don’t truly understand what he’s going through until they’ve experienced it.
“Everybody tells you how to live your life,” he told Page Six. “But that’s while they’re living theirs and not surviving through our problems. I’m in my 60s. I lived tied up in a box five years. Childlike, Barbara can no longer spell a word.”
Gasby previously opened up about the challenges he has faced caring for his wife while also beginning a new relationship in a profile for The Washington Post, and later, during an appearance on the Dr. Oz Show.
He also addressed critics in a post on Facebook, where he explained, “I love my wife but I can’t let her take away my life!”
In 2016, Gasby told PEOPLE that taking care of Smith was a round-the-clock job.
“It’s the toughest thing I’ve ever dealt with,” he said. “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.”
Caring for Smith “is overwhelming most of the time,” Gasby admitted to PEOPLE then. “I’m taking it one day at a time,” he said.
“It’s extremely difficult,” he added. “At times I feel like I am between the Titanic and the iceberg and the water is cold and it makes a difference which one I get on.”