Emmaus, PA - Rodale announced today the passing of Ardath Harter Rodale, former Chairman and one-time Chief Executive Officer of the global media company bearing her family's name. She was the wife of the late Bob Rodale, former Rodale Chief Executive Officer, and the mother of Maria Rodale, the current CEO and Chairman of Rodale, and Heather Rodale, Heidi Rodale, Anthony Rodale and the late David Rodale. Ardath Rodale also served as Co-Chairman of the Board of The Rodale Institute, a non-profit 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.
Rodale began working at Rodale in 1956. She oversaw the development and renovations of Rodale's headquarters in Emmaus. Instead of tearing down existing buildings, she chose to restore and renovate buildings and implement energy-saving designs wherever possible, in keeping with the company and family's heritage as a leader in environmental stewardship. She served as an inspiration and friend to many at work and in the community, and became a leading AIDS activist after the death of her son David Rodale in 1985. In 1990, following the death of her husband Bob in a car accident in the former Soviet Union, Ardath Rodale became the Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of the company. Under her tenure, Rodale published The Doctors Book of Home Remedies, which sold 20 million copies, launched Men's Health magazine, and expanded internationally. She remained CEO until 2002. She resigned as Chairman in 2007, when she took on the role of Chief Inspiration Officer and her daughter Maria was named Chairman by the company's Board of Directors.
Rodale was also a columnist for Prevention magazine and author of four books. Her memoir, Climbing Toward the Light, was published in 1989, four years after her son David died of AIDS. Rodale became active in AIDS education at a time when few women spoke publicly about the disease. She served as a member of the Harvard AIDS Institute's International Advisory Committee. Rodale's other books include Gifts of the Spirit, Reflections: Finding Love, Hope, and Joy in Everyday Life and Everyday Miracles: Meditations on Living an Extraordinary Life published in 1997, 2002, and 2007 respectively.
Ardath Rodale was named one of the '50 Best Women in Business in Pennsylvania' by the Central Penn Business Journal in 1996, and a Distinguished Daughter of Pennsylvania by Governor Tom Ridge in 1997. She was chosen as one of the top 50 Women Business Owners in the United States in the October 1997 issue of Working Woman Magazine and as one of the 50 Leading Women Entrepreneurs in the World by The Star Group in 1999.
In 1994 Mrs. Rodale received two Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters; one from DeSales University in Allentown, PA, and the other from Lehigh University in Bethlehem, PA. She also received an Honorary Doctor of Laws degree from Kutztown University in 1995. In 2006, she received an Honorary Doctorate of Humanities degree from the New College of California in San Francisco. She received numerous other service awards and accolades for her work to improve lives and the environment.
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. Son David died in 1985.