20 years ago, when B. Smith was on TV, on the cover of magazines and books, when she had restaurants, when everyone seemed to call her “the black Martha Stewart,” as if it weren’t enough to just be B. Smith.
Six years ago, she was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. The illness is particularly common among African Americans, and it struck B. Smith at her prime; it ravaged her brain, jumbling her memories, turning her sentences into alphabet soup.
Not long after, B.’s restaurants shuttered. Her appearances dried up. With Dan Gasby, her husband and business partner of more than two decades, she turned her efforts to speaking about Alzheimer’s and advocating for research. Then, she didn’t do much talking at all.
But Dan turned to social media. He took over their Facebook page, sending near-daily missives to their 30,000 followers on the realities of caring for a spouse who was rapidly forgetting him — the fear she’d developed, her anger and frustration, his own.
At 64, he had a wife, and he had a girlfriend named Alex Lerner. He was happy and in love.
Alex had a nurturing spirit. And she saw the same in him. “What I admire about him,” she said, “is that he takes care of her.”
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