Bill Montgomery, the co-founder of the conservative non-profit group Turning Point USA (TPUSA), died Tuesday of COVID-19 complications. He was 80.

Conservative strategist Caleb Hull confirmed Montgomery's death on Twitter. Hull considered Montgomery to be both a friend and a mentor.

In a memorial statement, Turning Point USA called Montgomery the organization’s “first believer and senior advisor.”

Montgomery met current TPUSA leader Charlie Kirk at Benedictine University in 2012, when Kirk was giving a speech. Montgomery, a retiree and Tea Party-backed political candidate at the time, encouraged Kirk to pursue political activism, with the two men starting TPUSA several months later.

“It was Bill and Charlie’s chance encounter in 2012, along with Bill’s generosity and willingness to invest in an 18-year-old with no experience and no connections that gave birth to the dream that would one day become Turning Point USA,” the statement continued.

In a statement to Politico, Kirk said, “I can’t put into words how saddened I am by the death of my dear friend Bill Montgomery.” Kirk has been active Wednesday on Twitter but has not addressed Montgomery's death on the social media platform as of 9:30 p.m. ET.

Montgomery is survived by his wife, Edie, along with his son and daughter.

Turning Point USA has become a major pro-Trump organization, whose stated mission is to "identify, educate, train and organize students to promote the principles of fiscal responsibility, free markets and limited government.” Kirk has attempted to rally younger generations around Trump’s “America First” platform.

Kirk has made numerous controversial statements about coronavirus, railing against lockdown policies to prevent the spread of infection. Kirk also recently said that the “science around masks is very questionable” despite evidence that face coverings are effective at curbing the spread of the virus.