First reported 7/22/2009 2:48 p.m.

Judith Trage, the matriarch of a local family with longstanding economic and social ties to Forest Park, filed for bankruptcy protection on July 20. Her Chapter 7 petition comes roughly two months after her son, William Trage, also sought court relief from an overwhelming financial crisis.

According to Judith Trage’s bankruptcy filing, a real estate venture in the name of TNT Investments sunk her personal finances. That firm was created in 2004 with her son. Attorney Robert Benjamin, who’s handling both Judith and William Trage’s cases, said earlier this month that a mortgage foreclosure on an Oak Park property owned by TNT Investments forced William Trage into bankruptcy.

That same foreclosure is listed on Judith Trage’s petition. Through TNT Investments, she owes more than $191,000 on that mortgage, according to court records. Her son’s bankruptcy filing stated his debt on the mortgage to be more than $719,000.

Judith Trage is a co-owner of Trage Bros., a family-owned appliance store on Madison, with another of her children, John Trage. That business closed suddenly in recent weeks, and customers have been offered little or no explanation.

There is no mention of the retail store in Judith Trage’s bankruptcy.

Eric Frisch, an Oak Park resident who said recently that he bought several appliances from the store, has not received those items. In an e-mail to the Review, Frisch said he and his wife purchased roughly $4,000 worth of merchandise and expected it to be delivered July 11.

“My calls go unanswered, same with notes shoved under the door,” Frisch said.

Over the course of a roughly 10-year career in kitchen design, Rebekah Zaveloff, of Wicker Park in Chicago, has purchased appliances for various clients from Trage Bros. on several occasions. Typically, she said, those transactions went smoothly. Now, Zaveloff said she’s trying to track down the Trages to either get a kitchen range – or the money – for a client in Lincoln Park.

Earlier this month, Zaveloff said her company, Kitchen Lab, received a call from the store announcing that floor models were being sold. There was no hint that the business might close beyond that “random” call, she said.

“It was very sudden,” Zaveloff said.