‘Everything a fella needs’

It was May of 2006. 

Nearly 9,000 miles away in the arid heat of the Namibian desert, Dr. Greg De Boer dialed a Livingston phone number. 

Crackling static from the poor phone connection emanated from the phone, and a faraway voice on the other end answered — a man, whom De Boer had never met, but who he hoped would point him in the direction of a chiropractic job in the small Montana town.

He needed to get his family out of the increasingly volatile African country, the sooner, the better. 

And he knew he wanted his new home to be near Big Timber.


“It was getting a little iffy in the end,” De Boer said, as he looked out the window of his chiropractic office on First Avenue. 

The view from his desk is picturesque — the Crazy Mountains stand tall in the distance, a light covering of clouds briefly hiding the peaks.

“Things were getting rough,” he said. “They were starting to kill white people.”

Not only was De Boer starting to fear for the life of his family, but life in Namibia was lacking the certain necessities that make life comfortable — steady water and electricity. 

“The services were hit and miss,” De Boer added. 

From 2003-2006 De Boer, his wife Bettina and his kids, Peter, Emelia and Sallie lived in Windhoek, Namibia. 

The family had come from Denmark after De Boer watched a Discovery Channel special on the southwestern country of Namibia. After making a short trip down to the foreign country, the family agreed that it seemed like an interesting place to live.

Their house and his chiropractic office were located in the central part of the city. Their home was surrounded by a tall fence with looped barbed wire lining the top. They owned guard dogs, and a security guard sat by the gate in front of the house. 

A few years after they moved down south, they decided enough was enough. The family could hear shots being fired at night, and it just didn’t feel safe anymore.

They pared all of their belongings down to a 20-foot shipping container and flew to Montana, where they’ve remained since 2006.


De Boer has been in the practice for 27 years now, the most recent 10 of which have been in Big Timber — and the thought of leaving the small town before he retires has never crossed his mind.

“Ten years, you get to know people,” he said. “This is a good, solid community.”

To read the full story, pick up the July 7 edition of the Pioneer or subscribe to our e-edition. Current subscribers are provided complimentary access to the e-edition with registration.

By Olivia Keith / Pioneer Staff Writer

Photo by MACKENZIE REISS / Big Timber Pioneer

CUTLINE: Dr. Greg De Boer is pictured outside his office on First Avenue July 5. De Boer often rides his bike to work.

Editor's note: This is the seventh installment in a yearlong monthly Pioneer series featuring stories about the moment our readers fell in love with Sweet Grass County. The features will run on the first Thursday of each month throughout 2016. To nominate a suject, email news@bigtimberpioneer.net or call (406) 932-5298.


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