B Smith3

Barbara “B” Smith shows off some of the dishes at her Washington restaurant, B. Smith’s, in 2002. (SUSAN WALSH/AP)

About two weeks ago, I read an article that said the B. Smith restaurants were closing a couple of their locations, and that B. and her husband, Dan Gasby, were moving to a warmer climate. He mentioned that there would be some relief in not being a restaurateur and also there were some health concerns regarding his wife. She has been on my mind since reading that article.  Last week, I woke up to a Facebook message from Ola Jackson that shared B. Smith has been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. I looked at the attached link from “Just Jared” and this is what it said:

Former model and current entrepreneur B. Smith has revealed that she has been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease.


The 64-year-old restaurant owner and decorator opened up to CBS News, as she wants to erase the stigma and shame that comes with the incurable disease.

“I think the future’s going to be fine,” B. said. “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.”


Debbie Norrell

B., whose first name is Barbara, was one of the first African-American models on the cover of Mademoiselle Magazine and opened her first restaurant in New York City in 1986. She has hosted a television program and frequently been featured as a guest on talk shows to discuss food and style. I then watched the video of the interview; she did not know the day, month or year. There will be a full interview on the June 15 edition of CBS Sunday Morning. In Pittsburgh it airs at 9 a.m. on KDKA TV.

In May of 1996, B. Smith was a guest on “Talk Back with Debbie Norrell.” She showed up with her handsome husband Dan Gasby and his daughter. I invited them both into the studio but he wanted the spotlight to be on his wife only. But he did come into the studio before we opened the microphone, and kissed her hand and told her to have a great interview. I’m so glad that I always had a camera around during those days. I took pictures of her and her husband. During the interview we talked about the book “B. Smith’s Entertaining and Cooking for Friends” and after the interview we spoke about modeling in Pittsburgh. She laid the foundation for many of us. We found we had worked for the same stores, through the same fashion offices.  Now, I am remembering bringing her to Pittsburgh for Power Conference 2000 for the Minority Enterprise Corporation and then I recall the interview for the New Pittsburgh Courier that featured her line of bedding.  Several years ago she was a guest at Giant Eagle Market District where she introduced her line of olive oil. I have interviewed so many book authors and, in a lot of cases, I have not looked at the books since that date. I just looked at what B. Smith wrote: “to Debbie enjoy and use my book with laughter, love and spirits. Best wishes Barbara Smith.”

Please Pray for B. Smith.

(Email the columnist at debbienorrell@aol.com)



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