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Hill to burn mortgage on husband's debt-ridden farm

WAYNESBORO, Ga. -- The widow of Leonard Hill, who killed himself to save his family's farm, went to New York Monday to attend a mortgage-burning party realizing his dream.

Millionaire developer Donald Trump, who helped the widow raise the $187,000 needed to save her farm, planned the party Tuesday in the atrium of the Trump Tower, the developer's Fifth Avenue showplace, officials said.

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Annabel Hill left Georgia Monday with her oldest son, Jim, and flew to New York for Tuesday's festivities.

'It feels wonderful, it really does -- especially at this time of the year,' she said. 'I'm just so grateful to these men. It's really hard with the main person in your family gone. This kind of eases the ache a little bit.'

Leonard Hill shot himself to death Feb. 4, 20 minutes before the family's Burke County farm was to be auctioned in a foreclosure action. Hill had hoped the life insurance money would be sufficient to retain the farm his family had owned for generations.

It wasn't, but the widow's plight received national attention and Atlanta businessman Frank Argenbright Jr. began a fundraising drive to save the farm.

When all but $78,000 was collected, Trump promised to pay $39,000 if the other half was raised elsewhere. An unidentified Dallas businessman matched Trump's offer, said Dan Klores, the developer's spokesman.

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'This would have made my husband so happy,' Hill said. 'This is more than he ever dreamed of being able to do. He just wanted to sell off enough land to keep a little piece.

'Now it will all be paid off and we'll have 705 acres,' she said. 'We were struggling to save 326.'

Hill said she would remain cautiously optimistic until the mortgage papers were burned and her farm was saved.

She added that the wife of her youngest son, Leonard, is expecting a baby Tuesday and said the family hopes it will be 'a little farmer boy.'

'Boys just have to grow up' on farms, she said.

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