A week of change at Rodale Inc. concluded Friday with one very sad one: Ardath Rodale, former chairman and longtime matriarch of the health-publishing family, has died, according to a statement from the company. No cause of death was given. She was 81.

Rodale spent more than 50 years working for the company that %%DynaPub-Enhancement class="enhancement contentType-HTML Content fragmentId-1 payloadId-61603 alignment-right size-small"%% bears her family's name. Rodale Inc. publishes such titles as Prevention, Organic Gardening and Men's Health.She took over from her husband, Bob Rodale, as chairman and chief executive in 1990, after he died in a car accident, and held the title of CEO until 2002, when she passed it over to then-president Steven Murphy. Rodale remained chairman until 2007, when she was succeeded by her daughter, Maria Rodale. Since then, she had served as "chief inspiration officer": a title that reflected the role she played in guiding the company's ecoconscious, employee-friendly sensibility.

Rodale is survived by two siblings, four children, and 11 grandchildren. Her son David died of AIDS in 1985, an experience she chronicled in her memoir, Climbing Toward the Light.

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