Robert David Rodale earned a bachelor’s degree from Lehigh University in 1952, where he studied English and journalism. He also received an honorary doctorate in 1989. Following the death of his father J.I. Rodale in 1971, Rodale, who had been president since 1951, took over leadership in the family owned company. He is credited with building the company into one of the world's most trusted sources for health-and-wellness content. For more than 60 years, the privately held company has inspired and enabled people to improve their lives through its reporting of groundbreaking, science-based health-and wellness information.
Rodale married Ardath (Ardie) Harter when he was 21 and she was 22. When she was 27, Ardie began working for the company on a volunteer basis, and was in charge of the company’s facilities and the company’s growing art collection. After Bob Rodale’s death in 1990, Ardie became chief executive officer and chairman of the board of Rodale Inc. She also served as co-chairman of the board of The Rodale Institute. She was a member of Harvard AIDS Institute’s International Advisory Committee, and was honorary chair of the “Names Project,” which brought sections of the national AIDS Memorial Quilt to the Lehigh Valley for the first time. She was the author of three books, Climbing towards the Light (1989), Gifts of the Spirit (1997), and Reflections (2002), and wrote a monthly column for Prevention magazine. She received two honorary doctors of humane letters in 1994 from Lehigh and from DeSales University. She also received an honorary degree from Kutztown University in 1995. Rodale passed away in 2009.
Ardie and Bob’s daughter Heather Rodale is a Lehigh graduate (1974, 1976G, 2005P) as well as their granddaughter, Gillian Rodale Stoneback, Heather’s daughter, (Class of 2005). Today at Lehigh, the life and work of Robert Rodale continue to be celebrated and remembered by the establishment of the Robert Rodale Chair in Writing in 1994, the Rodale Program in Online Communication, and the Rodale Scholars Program.