Fewer people knew Guy Kemper. Some of his few close friends, like youth counselor Bob Fazdin, knew him as Guy. A lot of his buddies down at the Fireside and Jury Room called him “Big Ed” to match his six-foot-inch height and two-hundred-ninety-pound bulk. At work, he was nicknamed “Forklift” because of his ability to carry two ninety-two-pound sacks of cement on his massive, outstretched arms.
His mother had named him Edmund Emil Kemper III to continue a tradition in her husband’s family.
Guy was not as widely known as Herb (Mullin). He had only come to town in 1969 to visit his mother, who had lived in Aptos since 1965 and worked at the University of California campus north of town.
His mother, Clarnell Strandberg, told friends very little of her or her son’s past life other than allusions to the Hollywood crowd and a good bank job she had held in Helena, Montana. She was considered good at her job — an administrative assistant to Charles Post, the first provost of UC’s Stevenson College — and later she moved across campus to College Five.
Guy was introduced to her friends as her highwayman son — he worked for the California Division of Highways as a flagman. He visited occasionally on his motorcycle.
In early 1972 Guy took a recuperation leave from his job — he had broken his left arm in a motorcycle smashup — and spent more time in Santa Cruz area and at his mother’s apartment.
Neighbors could always tell when Guy was visiting — arguments would inevitably erupt, shouting sessions in which he would be upbraided for lazing about drinking beer and not making something himself.
Mrs. Strandberg was a large woman, standing exactly six feet tall and built as square as her son. Her voice was heavy and when angry carried a long distance. She had been known to reduce Guy to tears in front of his friends with her sharp tongue.
After he wrecked his motorcycle, Guy drove an old yellow Ford and immediately crumpled the right rear fender, requiring a makeshift tail light on that side.
The easily recognizable two-door sedan came and went at all hours. And the mother and son arguments raged as often and irregularly.
He once explained to a neighbor girl, twenty-year-old Carla Gervasoni, that the arguments between him and his mother were just the way they expressed themselves as a family.
“We like to get things out in the open. My mother and are really very close and we know these fights don’t mean anything,” Guy said, apologizing for the late hour at which the last argument had erupted.
Source: Sacrifice Unto Me (Don West, Pyramid Books, 1974)