Matthew Vassar, Jr., nephew of the Founder, died in Poughkeepsie after a brief illness, aged 73.  He and his brother, John Guy Vassar, had retired from the family brewing business in 1863 and had engaged in several philanthropies, including the college's Vassar Brothers Laboratory, in 1879, and a Poughkeepsie home for aged men, in 1880, built on the site of Vassar Jr.’s birthplace, the house erected in 1702 by Poughkeepsie’s founder Baltus Van Kleeck, Vassar Jr.'s mother’s great-grandfather.

Matthew Vassar, Jr., served as the college’s treasurer and the overseer of its endowments until his death. His will contained bequests to the college of nearly $150,000, along with provision for his share of the Vassar Brothers Hospital, completed by his brother, John Guy Vassar, after his death.