OAKLAND (KRON) — Friends knew him as the “the most normal weird guy.”

Thirty-five-year-old Jason McCarty grew up in a small town called Fort Madison, Iowa. Located on the Mississippi River, it was a town where everyone knew everyone.

And from an early age, McCarty impressed neighbors and friends with his drawing skills.

“He was incredibly talented. You could tell what he was drawing came from the deep recesses of his mind,” said Chris Escobar, 36, who rode bicycles around town with him as a child, adding they were close in high school and stayed in touch until McCarty died.

McCarty, of Oakland, was approachable and well-liked.

“He can go from down-to-earth to extremely deep. It was like he was always really deep but would come to the surface when he needed to interact with others,” said Escobar, who lives in Tyler, Texas. “The most normal weird guy you would ever meet. And you say weird in a loving way.”

Pat Eaves said McCarty and her son, Troy, drew for hours together growing up. They played Little League baseball together.

McCarty moved to California after attending University of Maryland at College Park, according to people who knew him.

“He was the most inspiring person in the world,” Escobar said. “He didn’t know the impact he had on people.”

McCarty was one of 36 people who died in the deadly Oakland warehouse fire late Friday night.The Associated Press contributed to this report.