By Karen Holzmeister
SAN LORENZO — Natalie Vukmirovich-Conkel admits she ''didn't know a shuffle from a tap'' 15 years ago, when she started dancing with the Golden Follies troupe of senior dancers.
But, that didn't stop this spirited lady who — while admitting to being only ''29-plus'' — seems to have the combined energy of her five grandchildren.
A talkative and animated woman of Serbian descent, Vukmirovich-Conkel is president of St. George's Serbian Orthodox Church in Oakland.
She also heads the bulletin and scholarship committees for Hayward's Hill and Valley Club. Vukmirovich-Conkel is writing a book about her family's history and has compiled pictorial histories of 16 family members who have served in the military since World War II.
The one-time high school majorette and performer in San Lorenzo amateur productions plays the harmonica, piano and accordion. She reads and writes in the Cyrillic language, an alphabet used by Slavic and Eastern European countries.
''I'm determined,'' admitted Vukmirovich-Conkel, who also grows grapes outside her San Lorenzo Village home.
Inside, photos of her four children, grandchildren and other relatives cover the walls. The radios, tea cups, music boxes and coffee cups she collects add to the cozy feeling.
Vukmirovich-Conkel entertains lavishly, having decorated her dining room to resemble a theater lobby for a family party Saturday.
She proudly describes herself as a gourmet cook, doing everything from molding butter into elegant shapes to whipping up a flaming spinach salad.
The daughter of a Serbian immigrant and an American of Serbian descent, Vukmirovich-Conkel grew up in Montana and Wyoming before her family moved to Oakland just in time for Natalie to begin her senior year at Fremont High School.
Oh, by the way, the avid reader also is in charge of the reunion planning for her class.
Vukmirovich-Conkel met her husband, Lloyd ''Ted'' Conkel, in Oakland. They've been married for 56 years and have lived in San Lorenzo for 48 years.
She's retired from a 26-year career as a Mervyns corporate administrative assistant.
Be active, she encouraged other seniors, while heading from an interview to join her husband at the San Lorenzo Library.
''If you sit still, you fall apart,'' she contended.