It was 22 years ago when I met Kim Alexis for what would be a quick interview in New York City's Central Park.
She was 24. Nobody used the term "supermodel" at that time but, if ever there was one, it was this blonde and fit young woman who graced Sports Illustrated swimsuit issues and turned heads, even fully clothed.
Her mother, Barbara, a beauty who lives in Buffalo, was with her.
You might say Kim was "the quintessential cover girl" as she had succeeded Lauren Hutton as the Ultima II "face" for Revlon in 1983. At the time, she was among an elite group of models: Iman, Tara Shannon, Christie Brinkley, Kelly Emberg, Esme, Carol Alt and Paulina Porizkova.
Where is she now?
At age 46 she lives in Florida and is married to former New York Rangers hockey player Ron Duguay. They have five children. She also is preparing to host a cable show, "She's Got the Look," on TV Land for aspiring models (it is slated to air next summer) and has written a book, "A Model for a Better Future."
Her recent commercials pitching Preparation H hemorrhoid treatment and Monistat yeast infection ointment have helped pay the bills for her large family.
When we met, she had just married Jim Stockton, a Florida real estate developer. They divorced eight years later but had two sons, Jamie, now 21, and Bobby, 18. She married Duguay in 1993, and he had two daughters Amber, now 23, and Shay, 19. Together they have a son, Noah, 13. Once a competitive swimmer, she now runs.
How's the model figure these days? "I try to keep in the best shape I can, but I will never be model-thin again. I do work out, and I try to eat half my food raw, but I'll never have the same waist I had back then."
Her bad habit: chocolate chip cookies.
She doesn't mince words about today's models.
"The profession has changed. I think everyone wants to be a star right away. They get paid more money than I ever did, but girls lack professionalism. Everyone thinks of themselves as supermodels. The title has been borrowed by many."
She thinks working moms are "golden," but they also need to be reminded to take time for themselves.
"The biggest change for me as a mom was realizing I needed to put someone else before me. Now the hardest part about the empty nest is learning to put myself first. I know that I have raised my sons to be big, strong, independent men who love God, themselves and care for others. I have to learn to let them have space and learn without me."
She grew up a Christian in a small church, learning all the Bible stories, and became an elder at age 17.
"But I did not have a personal relationship with Jesus until I met my nanny, who helped me through a failing marriage and raising my two boys in a New York City apartment," she said.
"She showed me by example what it was like to be able to talk to Jesus and bring all my cares and worries to Him. That was in 1990."
So, this is the woman who was considered a sex goddess? Whose SI swimsuit pictures hung in frat houses and bars?
One and the same. She knows some people question her reign as a "sex symbol," and her religion. One of her photos for SI, wearing a see-through yellow swimsuit, comes back to haunt her. "That shot is a big regret."
Still, she sees nothing wrong with wearing a bikini if the body is fit and healthy.
Kim says she is a woman comfortable with herself, being God-centered with a happy marriage, good kids and a message for other women.
"Today I'm a more solid, grounded person, positioned to encourage women. I have learned to be molded by God into the person He wants. I want to help and encourage others to be the best they can be."
Yes, this is a former model who surprises you.
Barbara Cloud's column appears in the Post-Gazette Magazine on the first Monday of each month and has an exclusive home on the PG's Web site all other Mondays. To access her columns on the Senior Class Web page, visit www.post-gazette.com/lifestyle/senior .