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Daughter remodels room for her aviator dad in Carbondale

Published: Wednesday, June 4, 2014 1:15 a.m. CDT
(AP Photo/The Southern Illinoisan, Adam Testa)
Tom Engram recounts stories of his military tenure May 7 at his home in Carbondale. Engram served as a pilot for the Air Force during World War II, flying B-24 bombers, among other aircraft. His daughter, Cheryl Francis, has taken a cluttered, outdated room in her father’s house and transformed it into a showcase where he can relive his World War II service.

CARBONDALE (AP) – Cheryl Francis has taken a cluttered, outdated room in her father’s house and transformed it into a showcase where he can relive his World War II service aboard bombers.

“I thought about this for a long time. I wanted to transform the space so he would have things around him – his accomplishments and awards, his paintings, computer space and book cases,” Francis said about the 10-by-12-foot room.

Her father, retired Lt. Col. Thomas B. Engram, trained in B-25s and was a pilot and member of B-24 units that drew 36 missions, dropping explosives in Japanese harbors during the Pacific Ocean theater of World War II.

She had the entire space gutted and did the remodeling by phases with some of the work done by private contractors.

New carpet was installed. Walls got sanded and repainted. Francis wanted to highlight a new room layout around a special feature – a window.

“This is very serene. The window looks out on the backyard,” she said.

In addition to getting the floor plan organized and the various items in place, such as her father’s history books in new cases, Francis applied her creative touch as an educated interior designer.

She had track lighting and new file cabinets installed. Family furniture got refinished. And her shopping at antique stores landed her a jewel in the form of a large illustration of a B-24 pilot’s instruments and control panel from the cockpit of a B-24 Liberator.

“I framed and featured it to include with his memorabilia,” Francis said about the illustration.

Engram said he sits in front of the illustration and can almost hear a full throttle of the engine.

He said he enjoys the accessibility of all his items, including his water colors and acrylics.

Even though she was working with a small space, there were mounds of items to go through, Francis said.

“It was a huge deal. The project took 3 months,” she said.

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