ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — Monday marked exactly 90 years since the death of George Eastman, arguably Rochester’s most important historical figure.
It was March 14, 1932 when the Eastman Kodak founder, and one of America’s most accomplished business titans, took his life at his Rochester mansion on East Avenue with a gunshot wound to the heart.
A tragic end to a remarkable life, Eastman left behind a simple note that read “To my friends, my work is done. Why wait?” Eastman had a chronic spine condition that caused intense pain.
His staff was in shock, as was the city and country. Eastman was one of the most generous men of his era donating more than $100 million to various causes, ranging from the University of Rochester to MIT, to universities in Europe.
Through Kodak, he helped popularize the use of roll film, which allowed millions to share their photographs. He was all about social media, 100 years before social media. Kodak Motion Picture Film also paved the way for the movie industry.
Eastman helped pave the way for profit sharing and his employees were regularly rewarded with bonuses. Much like his good friend Thomas Edison, he loved to tinker, invent and innovate.
His remains are located on the north end of Rochester at Eastman Business Park. It’s a quiet area tucked behind trees, not far from the Kodak plant that he loved.
Ninety years later and his legacy lives on.