Eastman endowed the Eastman School of Music of the University of Rochester, and chose the American composer Howard Hanson to be its first director. Hanson made Eastman's school one of the most prestigious music schools in America.
In 1925, Eastman gave up the day-to-day management of Kodak, becoming Chairman of the Board. He thereafter concentrated on philanthropic activities. In 1932, he ended his own life by gunshot, leaving a note that said "My work is done. Why wait?" During his lifetime, he gave away an estimated $100 million, mostly to the University of Rochester and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (under the name of "Mr. Smith"). He also made substantial gifts to the Tuskegee Institute and the Hampton Institute. Upon his death, his entire residuary estate went to the University of Rochester. His former home at 900 East Avenue in Rochester, New York, was opened as the International Museum of Photography at the George Eastman House in 1947. On the 100th anniversary of his birth in 1954, Eastman was honored with a postage stamp from the United States Post Office. Eastman was born in Waterville, New York, some 20 miles southwest of Utica, New York. His parents were George Washington Eastman and Maria Kilbourn. Eastman is buried at Kodak Park in Rochester.