NEW YORK -- Annabel Hill gleefully watched millionaire Donald Trump burn her $130,000 mortgage Tuesday, thanked him for paying off a stifling farm debt that drove her husband to suicide and praised 'the good will in men's hearts.'
The mortgage-burning ceremony, held amid sparkling Christmas decorations draping Manhattan's 68-story Trump Tower, brought Hill and her eldest son Jim together with the three wealthy businessmen who helped raise the money needed to save the Waynesboro, Ga., farm.
Hill's husband, Leonard, committed suicide Feb. 4, just 20 minutes before the family farm was to be auctioned in a foreclosure action. The farmer had hoped his life insurance money would be sufficient to retain the farm his family had owned for 100 years.
Instead, it was a fund-raising drive by Atlanta businessman Frank Argenbright Jr., Dallas developer Tom McKamy and Trump that snatched the 705-acre farm from the clutches of financial ruin.
'Farming is really a life and it's a good life and were back in it again,' said the petite, grey-haired and bespectacled Hill, dressed in a red blazer, black skirt and brown pumps.
Clutching the farm's $130,000 mortage with Trump, she burst into a grin as he pulled out an ebony lighter inscribed with 'New York.'
'I love burning mortgages,' smirked Trump, standing before the $1 million waterfall in the six-story atrium of Trump Tower, the centerpiece of his development empire in the skyscraper canyons of the nation's most populous island.
Watching her financial troubles go up in flames, the soft-spoken Hill said the family was making a fresh start and her son, Leonard, had planted a new crop of wheat Monday.
'We have a real celebration, not only the birth of Jesus but also the good fill in men's hearts that has brought this to pass for us,' she said.
Leonard, an expectant father whose child was due Tuesday and will be Hill's 13th grandchild, used a tractor he purchased at an auction of another family's failed farm.
'We're going to have a little boy that will carry on the Hill farm for another generation,' beamed Hill, who said the farm has been in family for over 100 years, and said the child will be named Daniel Dozier Hill.
Trump praised the money raising efforts that saved the farm but his voice rose in anger as he criticized the government for failing to aid its crippled farm industry.
'We ought to give a damn about our farmers,' Trump said. 'There are so many other people out there that need people.'