Q. What if an obituary isn't in the local newspaper?
It is disappointing when an obituary search draws a blank. With obituary look-ups there are many factors at play.
First, obituaries and funeral notices are not automatic. The survivors must decide to pay to publish an obituary and not all do.
Second, when we get a request for an obituary look-up, we search the local newspaper for the ten days following date of death – but, in the confusion and enormity of the event, a family might not have gotten around to publishing an obituary until a few weeks or even months have passed.
The California Death Records list counties, not cities so there can be confusion about where a person died. The Social Security Death Index often lists the city which was the person's last residence. If the SSDI does not provide this information, one can request an informational death certificate from the state.
It is certainly possible that an obituary was published in a regional newspaper rather than the local one. Perhaps the family subscribed to The San Jose Mercury News, the Oakland Tribune, or even the San Francisco Chronicle all of which are (or at least were) the more substantive newspapers covering the general San Francisco Bay area.
Sometimes an obituary was published in the community where the deceased spent most of their adult life rather than the city where they died.