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DELAVAN — An anonymous donor has given an early Christmas present to Prairie Rest Cemetery in Delavan.

Ruth Kurtz, president of the Ladies' Cemetery Association, said someone has agreed to match any donations given to the cemetery maintenance fund, up to a total of $24,000, provided the donations are made by Dec. 24.

The board has struggled since last May to provide maintenance and upkeep of the cemetery after around $24,000 was reported missing from its accounts.

Long-time association treasurer Margaret Geary, 53, of Delavan was terminated by the board and charged with official misconduct, accused of stealing about $32,000 from accounts under her control, $24,000 coming from the cemetery association accounts.

Geary also was treasurer of the City of Delavan, Delavan Township Park District and American Legion Auxiliary. Her preliminary court hearing is set for Dec. 20 at the Tazewell County Courthouse.

Kurtz said she received a call from the anonymous donor around Nov. 30.

"We plain didn't have any money to mow or anything after what happened, so this was just the best thing that could have happened to us," said Kurtz. "It's been very rough. We are having to deal with it every day."

Kurtz said any donation would be appreciated.

"We're doing well so far. I am not sure how much we have received exactly, but we're on our way. It's been awesome," Kurtz said.

Interim treasurer Nelda Vannakan preferred to wait until after the deadline to say how much will go toward cemetery maintenance.

"This has been our angel in heaven for the people out in the cemetery and their families, said Vannakan. "We really needed the money. We've been hanging by a shoestring."

Vannakan said association was devastated by the loss of funds, but was determined to pull through.

"Of course, it's been a hard struggle, so this is just such a wonderful gesture, and very important for our finances," said Vannakan.

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