Ardath Harter Rodale, former chairman and CEO of publisher Rodale, died at 81. She was the wife of the late Bob Rodale, former CEO, and the mother of Maria Rodale, who currently holds the chairman and CEO title at the media company. Ardath Rodale served as co-chairman of The Rodale Institute, a nonprofit institution dedicated to research and education focused on organic food and agriculture.
“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,” said Maria Rodale, in a press release.
Rodale began working at Rodale in 1956. At the time, she oversaw renovations of Rodale’s headquarters in Emmaus, PA. She was environmental pioneer who guided the restoration of existing buildings and implemented energy-saving designs wherever possible. She became a leading AIDS activist after the death of her son David Rodale in 1985. She served as a member of the Harvard AIDS Institute’s International Advisory Committee.
In 1990, following the death of her husband, Bob, in a car accident, Ardath Rodale became chairman and CEO. Under her tenure, Rodale published The Doctors Book of Home Remedies, which sold 20 million copies; launched Men’s Health magazine; and expanded its international footprint. She remained CEO until 2002. She stepped down from the chairman role in 2007 and took on the role of chief inspiration officer. Her daughter Maria replaced her as chairman.
Rodale was also a columnist for Prevention magazine and author of four books.
She is survived by two siblings, Joy Robinson and James Harter, and her children, Heather Rodale, Heidi Rodale, Maria Rodale, Anthony Rodale, and eleven grandchildren. Her son, David, died in 1985.