My husband is forever correcting people who call a "death notice" an "obituary." But people don't know, and he shouldn't try to hold them accountable when they don't work for a newspaper. Yet he is right, a death notice vs a obituary are two distinct types of published information in a newspaper about a person who has died. An "obit" is generally written by a staff member on the paper, and it's reserved for a person of distinction in the community or , in some cases, a celebrity.
My mother had an obit published after she died, and the reporter for the Star Tribune interviewed me. My father, on the other hand, did not. His horrid little family in Arizona didn't even tell his original family when he finally kicked the bucket. A death notice is a paid advertisement submitted and paid for by either the family of the deceased or a person close to the deceased, and often the funeral home will handle it.
You can read more about what just happened in my personal blog today and see photographs of Molokai in: Thoughts About the Tides of Molokai.