Friday, July 21st 2017    |   


Suicide Note

Saturday, May 24, 2008   |   Poetry
George Eastman (July 12, 1854 March 14, 1932) founded the Eastman Kodak Company and invented the roll of film, helping to bring photography to the mainstream.

In 1925, Eastman gave up his daily management of Kodak, to become chairman of the board. He thereafter concentrated on philanthropic activities, to which he had already donated substantial sums. He was one of the major philanthropists of his time, ranking only slightly behind Andrew Carnegie, John D. Rockefeller, and a few others, but did not seek publicity for his activities. He concentrated on institution-building and causes which could help people's health. He donated to the University of Rochester, establishing the Eastman School of Music and School of Dentistry; to Tuskegee Institute; and to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), donations which provided the capital to build several of their first buildings at their second campus along the Charles River.

In his final two years, Eastman was in intense pain, caused by a degenerative disorder affecting his spine. He had trouble standing and his walking became a slow shuffle. Today it might be diagnosed as spinal stenosis, a narrowing of the spinal canal caused by calcification in the vertebrae. Eastman grew depressed, as he had seen his mother spend the last two years of her life in a wheelchair from the same condition.

On March 14, 1932, Eastman invited some friends to witness a change of his will. After some joking and warm conversation, he asked them to leave so that he could write a note. Moments later, he shot himself once in the heart with an automatic pistol. The note found by the household staff read simply:
"To my Friends, My work is done. Why wait?"
His funeral was held at St. Paul's Episcopal Church in Rochester. Eastman, who never married, was buried on the grounds of the company he founded at Kodak Park in Rochester, New York.