Ardath Harter Rodale, the former chairman and CEO of the family-owned magazine publisher Rodale Inc., died today at age 81.
Rodale was the mother of the company’s current CEO and chairman, Maria Rodale, and the wife of another former CEO, Bob Rodale. “We are very sad to say goodbye to an amazing woman, and more importantly, to our mother and the grandmother to our children. She will be very missed,” Maria Rodale said in a statement released by the company today. The cause of death was not disclosed.
Ardath Rodale first came to work at Rodale in 1956. While there, she oversaw renovations of the company’s Emmaus, Penn. headquarters, choosing to implement energy-saving features on the buildings instead of tearing them down and starting anew. Her husband, Bob, was killed in a car accident in 1990, and she took on the role of chairman and CEO. She was CEO until 2002 and stepped down as chairman in 2007 and took on the role of “chief inspiration officer” as her daughter Maria took her place on the board.
She also served as co-chair of the board of non-profit Rodale Institute, which is dedicated to research and education focused on organic food and agriculture.
In addition to her work at Rodale, Ardath was a columnist for Prevention magazine, an author and an AIDS activist, serving on the Harvard AIDS Institute’s International Advisory Committee. She also received many honorary degrees over the years, including two Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degrees from DeSales University and Lehigh University, an Honarary Doctor of Laws degree from Kutztown Unversity and an Honorary Doctorate of Humanities degree from the New College of California in San Francisco.
Ardath is survived by four children, including Maria, and eleven grandchildren, who will no doubt carry on the traditions of Rodale Inc. in her memory.