PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — B Smith was the host of a syndicated TV show bearing her name. She created an empire with her restaurants, a modeling career and developed the B Smith Brand.
But today, Smith’s life is very different.
In 2004, she was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. Now she and her husband, Dan Gasby, have written a book, “Before I Forget,” a story about love and life after diagnosis.
Gasby, Smith’s primary caretaker, calls her Sweetie.
“Sweetie is one of those people; she knows she’s dealing with something that’s tough. But she keeps up a positive attitude,” he said.
These days, Gasby does most of the talking for the couple, but Smith, the first African American woman to grace the cover of Mademoiselle Magazine is still a striking beauty, inside and out. Now, however, communicating their new message is a challenge.
“I still feel it’s a bit, ummm… it’s, I don’t know what to say,” she says.
KDKA’s Lynne Hayes-Freeland: “Overwhelming?
Smith: “Um-hmm. That’s it.:
Her husband helps her fill in the gaps.
Their book is more than a love story. It’s a glimpse into the world of someone living with Alzheimer’s and her caretaker.
Their goal is to shed light on an illness that affects entire families.
“This is not a reality show we live. We live reality, and so from that standpoint the only way to make a difference is to show what we’re really dealing with,” said Gasby.
Smith once graced the cover of fashion magazines and design books, bearing her name, but she now has trouble picking an outfit for the day.
But they are motivated to tell their story.
Gasby says Alzheimer’s is more common that people realize, especially in minority communities.
“Two out of three people with Alzheimer’s are women. Black and Latinos are two to three times more likely to have it,” he said. “We tried to make a difference, to bring it out of the shadows. It’s tiring and that’s the thing we have to show.”
Smith and Gasby are in town for a book signing event on Thursday evening at the Barnes and Noble Bookstore in the Waterworks Mall. It starts at 6 p.m.