How can I find records of my father’s death?

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My dad left my mom when I was a baby, and she filed for child support but didn’t know where he was and when the state did find him, he was on social security and never paid much. He showed up to get to know me when I was 14, and we spent weekends together and became fairly close. My mom decided that if he was willing to help with clothes shopping and take me to the fair, etc, she wouldn’t push the issue.

When I was sixteen he disappeared again, and I was hurt, but chalked it up to him being who he was and moved on. When I was 20, my mom got a call from child support division saying that they were closing the case since the father had been deceased for over three years. That was 8 years ago.

I don’t know where he lived at the time of his death, or even when it was, but would love some closure. His mother lived here in the town I live in, but I don’t know her name. She obviously made no effort to even tell me he’d passed.

How can I find any family records or even just an obituary?

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4 Responses to How can I find records of my father’s death?

  1. Ashley says:

    You could try searching for his name on the Social Security Death Index:
    http://ssdi.rootsweb.ancestry.com/

    This will tell you his date of birth, date of death, last known residence, and the state where his Social Security card was issued. If he has a really common name, you might get dozens of hits. But you may be able to recognize him by his birthdate, or the location where his SS# was issued.

    If you are able to find him on the Social Security death index, you can do a couple things with that information:

    1) You can order a copy of his death certificate from the Health or Vital Records department of the state where he died. This will probably tell you his birth date, place of birth, parents’ names, parents’ birthplaces, his occupation, cause of death, and other info.

    2) You can search for an obituary. You might be able to find it online; if not, the library in the county where he lived will probably have the newspapers on microfilm. You could also post his name here and someone with a subscription to a paid obituary database will look it up for you.

    Good luck!

  2. DavidH says:

    Ashley’s got it right – the first place to look is Social Security. http://ssdi.rootsweb.ancestry.com/. Once you’ve got the last known residence, you’ve got a lot of work to do – you can contact the libraries by mail; it’s also possible to contact the newspapers in his town and/or funeral homes.

    Libraries often have research assistants who, for a small fee, will look stuff up for you. It’s cheaper than travel. Most of these people are volunteers, and the fee is usually a donation.

  3. Ted Pack says:

    You can post a request for an obit on a county-level query board, too. Look at the board first; if there are several requests for obits that have been filled in the past couple of months, chances are good. If not, chances are bad.

    http://www.tedpack.org/obit.html
    has links and more advice.

  4. ancestorseeker says:

    Also call the county child support dept that called your mom and ask if they still have your case file for you to look at to find out how they knew your father was deceased and if they have the date and place.

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